The Barber of Seville has a well-earned position in the opera canon. Filled with delightful music – often familiar from its use in cartoons and other Hollywood productions – at its base it is an early 19th century rom-com. The current LAOpera production is perfectly cast as such from a theatrical point of view.
Count Almaviva, disguised as a student (Edgardo Rocha) is out to win the affection of beautiful Rosina (Isabel Leonard), the ward of old Doctor Bartolo (Paola Bordogna) who is out to marry his ward for her inheritance. Then there is Figaro (Joshua Hopkins), the wily barber to town’s upper echelon. He trades in gossip and deals with enthusiasm. The Count has enlisted Figaro in his quest to woo Rosina. There is intrigue, there is deceit, there are shenanigans, and of course there is passion. The scheming, which is too clever by half, almost fails. But in the end, the guy gets the girl just as you knew would happen. You leave the theater secure in the knowledge that they will live happily ever after. You can be equally certain that, before long, one will get angry at the other for how the tube of toothpaste is squeezed. But I’ll not be a killjoy.
Isabel Leonhard is glorious as Rosina. She is lovely and coquettish with a voice that lyrically, apparently effortlessly, flows out from the stage. Joshua Hopkins struts his Figaro with narcissistic bravado, fully invested in his antics and the gold coins he amasses in the process. Impish Paolo Bordogna’s rapid-fire patter, with footwork to match and the wig of a cuckhold, is perfectly conniving. While Edgardo Rocha cuts a dashing figure as the Count, his light tenor is no match for conductor Louis Lohraseb’s lusty style and he is easily swamped by the orchestra.
The production, originated by Lyric Opera of Chicago, Is classically pleasant. It is the LAOpera casting and the directorial flow that are most satisfying and take center stage.