Yesterday lunchtime the Ensemble Studio gave us a preview of their upcoming performance of the Barber of Seville. The production, of course, will be the one currently on stage at the Four Seasons Centre and there were clear echoes of that in the way yesterday’s event was put on though they also played with the fact that Almaviva will be split between Andrew Haji and Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure with much pulling and pushing into place.
The tone was set with Clarence Frazer’s Largo al factotum. I’ve been seriously impressed with his singing the last couple of times I’ve seen him and here, with an opportunity to act operatically, he really shone. He’s developing quite a stage presence and the broad brush strokes required here suited him. The same can be said for Charlotte Burrage singing Rosina. Besides nailing Una voce poco fa she was hilarious during a couple of duets but especially in A un dottor della mia sorte with Iain McNeil singing Bartolo. This must have involved hours of eye rolling practice. Very cute outfit too.
Besides good fooling from the tenors there was also fine singing in their somewhat contrasting styles; Haji big and Italianate in Ecco ridente in cielo, Fortier-Lazure asured and lyrical in Se il mil nome saper voi bramate. Things were rounded out by a very pretty Il vecchiotto cerca moglie by Karine Boucher and a hilarious ensemble rendition of Mi par d’esser colla testa drawn straight from the stage production. Jennifer Szeto played piano throughout with splendid energy.
So, the performance on May 15th looks surre to be a blast and I would in, normal circumstances, urge you all to go. But, despite Ring 4 being open for an Ensemble Studio performance for the first time, it’s sold out. Unless the PtB decide to open Ring 5 your only option will be rush standing room tickets.
Photo credit: Karen E. Reeves