THE BARBER OF SEVILLE By Gioachino Rossini, directed by Michael Patrick Albano, conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya (Canadian Opera Company). At the Four Seasons Centre (145 Queen West). To May 23. $60-$275, youth $20-$95. 416-363-8231. See listings. Rating: NNNNN
The Canadian Opera Company’s Barber Of Seville needs a good sharpening.
Musically it’s relatively enjoyable, but its drama – or more importantly, its comedy – feels forced. That’s a tragedy for this bubbly opera.
The commedia-inspired plot has Count Almaviva (Blagoj Nacoski) wooing Rosina (Enkelejda Shkosa), ward of the conniving old Doctor Bartolo (Patrick Carfizzi), who plans to marry her himself with the help of the music teacher Basilio (Burak Bilgili). But the wily Figaro (Rodion Pogossov), in the pay of Almaviva, finally unites the young lovers.
Under director Michael Patrick Albano, the action is hyperkinetic, with little sense of feeling between characters or of an ensemble cast. It’s too often fussily staged, with joke piled upon joke. Albano unnecessarily adds an undertaker to the first act’s finale and involves a metronome in the second act.
And if I were Melinda Delorme, who plays Bartolo’s employee Berta, I’d be fuming that the director orchestrates a major furniture-moving production behind me during my one aria.
Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s conducting could have more zip, and it’s unfortunate that most of the performers lack theatrical sparkle. Nacoski is a stiff, mostly bland Almaviva, and while Shkosa is energetic, she’s an unconvincing ingénue; her voice is big and she can sing a quicksilver barrage of notes, but they’re not often pleasing. Carfizzi has a sense of how to play comedy, but Albano saddles him with some silly business.
The only standout is Pogossov, who grabs the stage with youthful energy, a rich voice and an ability to bring the audience into his confidence. No surprise that the show really starts 20 minutes after the overture, with his first entrance.