Sunday, November 10, 2019

Barber of Seville at the Ordway, St. Paul

Liam Beck-O’Sullivan as Figaro’s Assistant in Minnesota Opera’s The Barber of Seville photo by Dan Norman

In Barber of Seville, a quick-witted barber, Figaro, helps a woman find true love.  When nothing goes as planned Figaro must think on his feet to save the day. Romance, comedy, and some of the best music ever written is combined in this opera directed by Francesca Zambello, playing in Downtown, St. Paul through November 16th by The Minnesota's Opera Center.

Figaro is a servant and an ordinary guy. He’s known to be the barber everyone lets into their home as he gives great advice to  the women of Seville to land the men of their dreams. The Ordway does an interesting job with the theatrical rigging system to suspend and lower the scenery making it easy for Figaro to depart and enter spaces like living rooms, bedrooms or town meeting areas from any angle.

When the police squad question Count and Figaro, they do so from behind cardboard cutout uniforms.  You can't help but laugh at them as they shake and move the cutouts about.  Funnier still, is when the Chief officer shrinks down into his cutout while listening to a quarrel between the lovers and the guardian of Rosina, Bartello. In some scenes actor's heads are completely hidden behind cardboard heads used to represent the townspeople and to exaggerate the absurdity of a character.

The cast of Minnesota Opera’s The Barber of Seville photo by Dan Norman

This may be a technical mistake but for six minutes introductory music played, leaving the audience with only a white panel to gaze at, and this causes the audience to stir slightly because its much like a sermon, which goes too long. But finally, when the panel is raised, you meet Figaro and his assistant (Liam Beck-O’Sullivan).

Rodion Pagossov as Figaro and Liam Beck O’Sullivan as Figaro’s Assistant in Minnesota Opera’s The Barber of Seville photo by Dan Norman

Baritone, Rodion Pogossov is a believable Figaro. In duet “All’ idea di quel metalls.” The Count, also known as Almaviva, asks Figaro to help him arrange a meeting with Rosina, given that Figaro is in good company with Rosina’s family. The Count offers him money and Figaro’s posse of clowns is more than happy to take the money as it falls from the sky and they shout “Gratzi, Gratzi!”

Figaro is smarter than everyone around him, he advises the Count to wear a disguise.  One comment repeated several times by patrons leaving the show is: "Almaviva had a clever disguise as the music teacher.”  

Almaviva delivered on his quest to win Resina's heart with the help of his costumes and operatic voice.  This is an opera about  "Eating, making love, singing, digesting, the four act comic opera we call life."  (Rossini)

Come and be captivated by the music and familiar songs in Ordways' production of Barber of Seville.

Runs Nov 9-16, Tickets at

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