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Washington National Opera's 'Barber of Seville' a snappy staging

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n case you missed it in print, or elsewhere on the paper's Web site, I thought I should mention my review of Washington National Opera's season-opening 'Barber of Seville' production finally saw the light of day. (The BSO gala was the same night as the first 'Barber' performance, so I was a little slow catching up with it.)

The production is a snappy affair (literally, in one respect), and it does something few 'Barbers' do for me these days -- provokes fresh laughs.

And it's a great opportunity to experience Lawrence Brownlee onstage, having a field day, vocally and theatrically, as Almaviva. In addition to his enormous talent, the tenor can't help but

     

be seen in symbolic terms, too. Few black tenors have performed major roles with major opera companies, so it's doubly significant that Brownlee has been triumphing at the Met, La Scala, Vienna State Opera and elsewhere.

The DC 'Barber' production also introduces a very impressive mezzo, Silvia Tro Santafe. She has 'bright future' written all over her. And the conducting of Michele Mariotti is far from routine. He really knows how to uncork the bubbly stuff in Rossini's score, and how to massage tempos for maximum impact.

For another view of the production, see my colleague Anne Midgette's take on last weekend's opening night performance. Also, from the Ionarts blog, Charles T. Downey weighs in.

PHOTO BY KARIN COOPER COURTESY OF WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA

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