Comic flourish enlivens 'Barber'

Mike Dunham
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Rehearsal with chorus and principals for the Anchorage Opera production of the Barber of Seville on Sunday January 25, 2009 in the Mountain View rehearsal space.
Lead flyman Terry Sevy works the fly rail that controls the curtain, lights and other parts of the production that hang from the ceiling above the stage at the Discovery Theater during the set up for the Anchorage Opera production the the Barber of Seville on Tuesday January 27, 2009.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Danielle Evans sets lights on the catwalks above the the Discovery Theater during the set up for the Anchorage Opera production the the Barber of Seville on Tuesday January 27, 2009.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Workers start covering the base frame work for the building on the set for the opera The Barber of Seville in the Discovery Theater during the set up for the Anchorage Opera production on Wednesday January 28, 2009. The base has casters that allows the building to rotate on the stage for different scenes.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Costume shop supervisor Denice Jewell looks through a note book with sketches of the costumes for the the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday January 28, 2009.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Conductor William Hicks leads the orchestra during a dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Peg Faithful gets a beard stubble applied before a dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009. Faithful is in the chorus in a Trouser Roll in the opera.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
As the musicians arrive at the theater the chorus warms up in the hallway before a dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
One of the bass players makes a notation on the score during a dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Anchorage Opera set shop on Wednesday January 21, 2009.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The costume shop and set shop gears up for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday January 28, 2009.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The costume shop and set shop gears up for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday January 28, 2009.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Work on the air system for the base frame work for the building on the set for the opera The Barber of Seville in the Discovery Theater during the set up for the Anchorage Opera production on Wednesday January 28, 2009. The base has casters that allows the building to rotate on the stage for different scenes.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The costume shop and set shop gears up for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday January 28, 2009.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dress rehearsal for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday February 4, 2009 at the Discovery theater of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Ann Reddig sews costumes for the production of Barber of Seville while Anchorage Opera costume shop supervisor Denice Jewell fits costumes on Steve Dixon on Wednesday January 21, 2009. Dixon is being fitted for his costumes for the characters Fiorello and Soldier.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The costume shop and set shop gears up for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday January 28, 2009.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The Anchorage Opera costume shop on Wednesday January 21, 2009.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The costume shop and set shop gears up for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday January 28, 2009.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The costume shop and set shop gears up for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday January 28, 2009.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
The costume shop and set shop gears up for the Anchorage Opera production of The Barber of Seville on Wednesday January 28, 2009.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
In the costume shop for the production of Barber of Seville while Anchorage Opera costume shop supervisor Denice Jewell fits costumes on Steve Dixon on Wednesday January 21, 2009. Dixon is being fitted for his costumes for the characters Fiorello and Soldier.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage Opera's "Barber of Seville" bustles with the animation of a television sitcom. As in his antic productions here of "HMS Pinafore" and "Don Pasquale," director Bill Fabris manages to have two or three visual things going on simultaneously most of the time that sidle up to, but don't quite become, slapstick. For instance, the echoing "Feeegaro" calls of the big act one aria, "Largo al factotum," were not sung by baritone James Taylor, but by cast members vying for his attention as they act out the text.

Taylor injected lively expressions into his portrayal of the tricky barber, Figaro. So did Kate Egan, as the tougher-than-she-looks heroine, Rosina, and -- especially -- Todd W. Robinson, Rosina's aging guardian, Doctor Bartolo, set on marrying her himself. From the closer seats, these rubber-faced comic flourishes were as clear as watching "I Love Lucy" reruns, but from the steady laughter behind me, I suspect they projected pretty well to the balcony too.

It's rare for basses to steal the show vocally. But Robinson and Won Cho -- as a perfectly venial Don Basilio, Bartolo's cohort -- were by far the strongest male members of the cast. Their voices dominated the ensembles. Cho has a particularly dark, melodic yet rafter-ringing bass that is worth the price of admission all by itself. Robinson's falsetto asides were, well, priceless.

Taylor's Figaro, while energetic and solidly on target, seemed somewhat small by comparison. Even quieter was the tenor of Dillon J. McCartney, in the role of Rosina's sweetie, Almaviva. McCartney has clear sound at the very high end of the range, and his nasally tone ("Does he have a cold?" people asked during intermissions) worked well in the music lesson scene. But on Saturday night he lacked the power and agility to keep up with the rest of the cast.

We had to wait until Act II to hear actual bel canto. That's when Egan filled the hall and tore up the set with an "Una voce poco fa" that drew guffaws even as she nailed her scales and top notes and made it all look effortless.

Satisfyingly sung smaller roles included Steve Dixon as Fiorello and Nancy Caudill as the housekeeper.

Amanda Walker's quasi-rococo set grabbed one's attention as soon as one entered the Discovery Theatre, looming two stories tall on the un-curtained stage. Built to be rotated for exterior and interior scenes, it may not have been easy to move quickly. Or so I suspect from the fact that the thunderstorm scene was among the cuts. The classic "Barber" costumes came from Sarasota Opera.

The orchestra, under the direction of William Hicks, played admirably, if a bit mechanically. The violins maintained good intonation and Cheryl Pierce's horn solos all came off cleanly.

An electric squeal popped up from time to time that might have come from a piece of equipment like a florescent light ballast. Please tell me it wasn't a microphone.

Find Mike Dunham online at adn.com/contact/mdunham or call 257-4332.


By MIKE DUNHAM
mdunham@adn.com