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John Lamb, Published October 27 2012

Review: F-M Opera sharp in ‘Barber of Seville’

FARGO - Perhaps no other opera has been co-opted in pop culture as much as Gioachino Rossini’s “Barber of Seville.” Just over two minutes into the overture and even an opera novice will recognize a passage from the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Rabbit of Seville.”

The Fargo-Moorhead Opera mostly sticks to Rossini’s original but gets plenty of laughs and applause with its first production of the season. The final performance is today at 2 p.m. at Festival Concert Hall, NDSU.

During Friday’s premiere, each of the main actors played delightfully to the crowd and the music itself was as lively as the action on stage.

Baritone Stephen Hartley stars as the titular Barber, Figaro, and sets the tone for serious fun with his introduction, “Largo al Factotum,” reveling in the rapid repetition of his name. Hartley’s face is as flexible as his voice, and he mugs to the crowd while scheming with Count Almaviva over how to win the hand of Rosina and pry her away from the grasp of her odious guardian, Dr. Bartolo.

As Rosina, mezzo-soprano Rebecca Ringle makes a memorable Fargo debut. The role doesn’t get the most monumental numbers, but her vocal range and her seemingly effortless ability to flutter and trill was remarkable.

Similarly, tenor Marc Schreiner reminds local crowds why he’s invited back, with his rich, romantic and comedic take as the oft-disguised Count.

The comedic star turn of the night was delivered by Concordia teacher Peter Halvorson. The F-M Opera regular twists his face and body but never his voice as the evil Dr. Bartolo, particularly as he plots with the towering and booming Jeremy Milner as Don Basilio.

Even conductor Alessandro Siciliani got in on the act. The animated maestro led the nimble production, occasionally bubbling over the opera pit as he did after a planned orchestra blurt interrupted a Bartolo recitation. After an exchange, Siciliani shrugged to the crowd, saying, “Also the flute?”

Flute. Dancing. Laughs. And plenty of great voices. The F-M Opera throws everything but the kitchen sink into this enjoyable production.

If You Go

What: “The Barber of Seville”

When: 2 today

Where: Festival Concert Hall, NDSU

Info: Tickets range from $40 - $70 for adults, $15 for reserved college seats and $5 for kids under 18 and college rush. (701) 239-4558

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533