The Greatest Thing You've Probably Already Missed
The Barber of Seville
Lyric Opera of Kansas City
The greatest joy I have as a reviewer is being sent to a show or other performance that I literally cannot wait to return to my computer and YELL at you through my keyboard to run out and buy a ticket! Unfortunately, this time I was sent out to see a show that was astounding but the chances are you might miss it.
The Lyric Opera of Kansas City ends its 54th season with Gioachino Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. This is a comic opera with perhaps some of the most recognizable opera music in the world thanks to one "wascally wabbit" and his animated pals. The fact that the music is so familiar (and fantastic) makes the production accessible and, it's REALLY funny!
Each of the principal cast members sparkled in their own way with standouts being the comic timing of Kevin Burdette as Bartolo, the imposing Bass of Arthur Woodley as Basilio and the impressive Joshua Hopkins as Figaro, the "barber" in question. Brian Anderson and Sandra Piques Eddy were very engaging as lovers Almaviva and Rosina. Strong in their supporting roles were Brad Walker as Almaviva's servant and Holly White as a maid. Supernumeraries Jerry Jay Cranford, Beau Crowder, Ernest Suarez, and Katie Tigerstrom provided some fantastic comedy that only served to bring us closer into the world of the "Barber".
It is often hard to distinguish whether the work onstage is a result of brilliant performers or a brilliant director. This production seems to have plenty of both but director William Theisen has worked wonders and hits a true comic piece in one slow-motion scene that I would like to see about fifteen more times to catch all of the brilliance I missed. A figurative tipping of the hat to the wonderful work of Conductor Ward Holmquist and the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra for their splendid execution of Rossini's work.
With each show the Lyric seems to raise their production values. Recent work on "Nixon in China" was fantastic and "Barber" seemed to be trying to top it with its lush sets and vivid costumes. There is much more to look forward to from this creative team.
I think it is important to note that this production marks the end of the Opera's general director Evan R. Luskin's career. Mr. Luskin has been a part of the Lyric since 1986 starting first as the managing director and moving into the General Director's role upon the retirement of conductor, manager and Lyric Opera co-founder Russell Patterson.
Luskin can proudly point to many achievements in his career not least of which is the Lyric Opera's work in the development of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts which continues to electrify the Kansas City arts scene. In addition, he has overseen the development of their purchase of three buildings in the East Crossroads neighborhood which will become Lyric's new administrative home as well as providing production and rehearsal space.
But now the sad part, the Lyric Opera traditionally does four performances of their production. The huge demand of this popular show meant almost all of the seats were sold out very quickly! This led them to add a performance on April 23rd. This Monday night presentation was the one I was able to see. That means there are only two performances left, and chances are you cannot get a seat. But, I still encourage you to not let this be the show everyone is talking about but you missed, run for those tickets now!
Even if you cannot acquire one of these hot tickets, hope is not lost. The Lyric's second season at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts shows great promise with the tragic "Madama Butterfly", the dramatic "Il Trovatore", the sure to be visually astounding "The Flying Dutchman" and the witty and light hearted "The Mikado".
For Tickets: kcopera.org or 816-471-7344