June 1, 2020
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Cinnabar’s “Barber” hilarious!

By: Janet and Lanny Lowery
June 14, 2019

“Figaro!  Figaro!  Figaro!” Maybe all of what most of us have known about opera since childhood. This comes early in Cinnabar Theater’s “The Barber of Seville.”  Now we must wait for two and a half hours for, as Yogi Berra may have so aptly coined the end of most productions, a baseball season or an opera, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings!” 

No time for waiting for that lady in the Cinnabar production as the laughter does not cease.  Verbal, vocal and physical humor singly, dually, or all combined happen from the opening curtain to the closing gag.  And, as the person sitting left of me commented, ”It’s all performed in English!”

The age-old story of the secret suitor opposing the pantelone, the rich old lecher, for the love the young beautiful heiress, presents its complications through disguises and tricks and deceits.  The predictable outcome leaves everyone smiling, the audience, the young couple, the old lecher and even Figaro the barber.

Cinnabar has outdone itself bringing not just this remarkable show to its venue but also so many widely known and highly talented performers to its stage.  Sergio Gonzalez, known throughout the Bay Area for his performances, and cited by “Classical Voice” as singing with “great charm and excellent vocal ability,” plays the role of Lindoro, the helpless lover who depends on Figaro (Igor Vieira) the barber to guide him in his love pursuit of Rosina (Maya Kherani).

While “Opera News” declared Vieira as “show stealing,” in this version of “The Barber of Seville” every character has his or her moment.  The show opens with a comical vignette involving street musicians.  And one scene seems to try to top the last.  Krista Wigle as the servant Berta, for example, makes the most with her opportunity to react with expressions, movement and voice to the appearance of the handsome young Lindoro.

And Lee Strawn’s Bartolo, the schemer and lecherer, whose ward is the beautiful Rosina, delights the audience with his folly.  Bass Jason Sarten plays Basilio, Rosina’s music teacher.  His proclivity to obliviousness established in the first scene with the other musicians, allows Figaro to manipulate him in his major schemes.

Igor Vieira as Figaro becomes the primary showstopper although every other character competes with the scene stealing.  Voice, movement and timing contribute to Vieira’s incredible performance.

Soprano Maya Kherani as Rosina, no less comedic than the others, shares her “crystalline tone” described by Opera News.  Even novice opera audience members appreciate her range, her stamina and her exotic sounds.

This outstanding production with musical direction led by Mary Chun and stage direction by Cinnabar’s own Elly Lichenstein with James Pelican is charged with an eleven-person orchestra.  Scenic design by Joseph Elwick presented first a street scene outside Rosina’s home and later an interior view of her sala.  Costumes designed by Jolie O’Dell suggested a 19th century atmosphere.

The perfect introduction to light opera and a chance to enjoy music, slapstick and verbal comedy and vocal acrobatics, “The Barber of Seville” runs through June 23.  Contact Cinnabar for tickets at 707-763-8929 or go online: centerstageticketing.com.