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Published: Sunday, 10/3/2004

Opera s fine cast keeps sharp edge to Barber

BY STEVEN CORNELIUS
BLADE MUSIC CRITIC

Fine casting highlighted Toledo Opera s production of Rossini s The Barber of Seville, which opened last night at the Valentine Theatre.

The comic story is one of good and bad guys. On one side are the lovers Count Almaviva and Rosina. Trying to foil them are the gray-haired Dr. Bartolo, who has his own intentions for Rosina, and his sidekick, Basilio.

In the middle is Figaro, who works each to his own ends.

Rich-voiced Jane Dutton gave a fine portrayal of Rosina, handling Rossini s florid bel canto vocal requirements with aplomb, getting stronger as the night progressed.

Yeghishe Manucharyan as Count Almaviva offered tones that were both clear and lovely. Handsome baritone Marco Nistico was a commanding Figaro, incisive in focus and voice.

Carlos Conde and Ryan Allen were a delightful team as a rotund Bartolo and sinewy Basilio.

The former grimaced and stomped, the latter moved with the litheness of a slimy kung fu master.

Stage director Kay Walker Castaldo elicited rich performances. Sometimes, however, staging got in the way, such as during Figaro s famous entrance cavatina, Largo al Factotum della citta, in which the prancing of the chorus was distracting.

Communication between stage and pit was shaky. For La calunnia, Basilio had a giant baton so that he would be able to whip up some musical fireworks.

He and music director Tom Conlin were not in cahoots, however. Tempos in the pit dragged throughout the night.

Toledo Opera next presents The Barber of Seville at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Valentine Theatre.

Tickets range from $25 to $75. Information: 419-255-7464.

Contact Steven Cornelius at:scornelius@theblade.comor 419-724-6152.



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