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Stellar soloists sparkle in Wichita Grand Opera’s Figaro

  • Published Sunday, March 17, 2013, at 10:22 a.m.

If you missed the Wichita Grand Opera’s single performance of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, I’m sorry to tell you there won’t be another one. Alas, because it was a great show.

To begin, the WGO is fortunate that the string section of its orchestra is led by the members of the St. Petersburg String Quartet – Alla Aranovskaya, Evgeny Zvonnikov, Boris Vayner and Leonid Shukaev – for this opera is particularly dependent upon crisp and sparkling strings. Conductor Dean Williamson kept the orchestra moving at just the right pace to illustrate the progress, comedy and drama of the plot, such that the show never seemed to drag.

The cast consisted of stellar soloists and the chorus, which sang with beauty and spirit, was well prepared by Edward Lada.

As Figaro, Patrick Carfizzi displayed a robust and rich voice with the ability to produce powerful and delicately sweet sounds, along with the dramatic skill to convincingly portray Figaro’s complex character. Ava Pine’s radiant voice and charming ability as an actress provided a Susanna both comic and fiery. As the Count, Jason Detwiler’s vocal ability was well featured in his rage aria, “Vedro mentr’io sospiro,” which included interpolated high notes that were brilliant and thrilling.

As the Countess, Zvetelina Vassileva’s voice was rich, powerful and expressive. Kaitlyn Costello’s Cherubino nearly stole the show on a few occasions, with exciting singing and delightful comic abilities. As Marcellina, Erin Mundus displayed a lovely voice and the ability to command the stage. Charles Turley’s Dr. Bartolo had the right balance of shyster lawyer and amusing father figure. Brian Frutiger’s clear and bright tenor voice suited well the needs of two characters, the conniving Basilio and the stuttering Curzio. As Antonio, John Stephens was suitably loud, blustery and coarse; while Alyssa Nance, as his daughter Barbarina, revealed a sweet and lovely tone.

Some of the most beautiful singing in the performance was done by Vassileva in “Dove sono,” by Pine in “Deh vieni, non tardar” and by the two of them in the duettino, "Sull’aria...che soave zeffiretto."

In regard to the projection of the English translation as supertitles, there was an awkward sequence at the beginning of the third act when nothing was projected during a number of phrases, necessitating several lines of text to be raced through to catch up with the dialogue.

Also, while it is common practice to project a translation once and to leave the screen blank when a text is repeated, this reviewer’s preference would be that projections of repeated text be left on the screen for the benefit of the audience’s understanding. Occasionally, this practice would also have helped reinforce the comedy, as in the duet “Via, resti servita, madama brillante” when Susanna repeatedly makes reference to Marcellina’s advanced age.

Tenor Randolph Lacy is an assistant professor of voice at Wichita State University. He has sung on many stages and has performed with operas and symphonies nationwide, including the Houston Grand Opera, Chamber Opera Chicago and Opera Memphis.

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