ROSSINI'S IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA
Opera's hits keep coming in 'Barber'
"The international mix worked fine on Thursday night at Proctor's Theatre
in Schenectady where the Teatro Lirico D'Europa presented Rossini's classic
comedy "The Barber of Seville." The opera's most famous music and
the best performance of the night came early on with "Largo al factotum," a
tour de force aria overstuffed with running melodic lines and mouthfuls of
words. Its la-la-la's and Figaro-Figaro Figaro's are a quintessential bit of
opera, lampooned almost as often as a soprano in horns.
Baritone Vladmir Samsonov as Figaro
belted out the proudlyself-referential number with stunning
accuracy and captivating bravado. As Samsonov's square and
sturdy frame faced center stage, it was hard not to stare in
amazement as his tongue bounced up and down within his huge
opened mouth. Throughout the night each of the principal singers
seemed to go for broke. That may be the only way to take on "Barber of Seville" since its music often spins
and rattles as fast as a roulette wheel. By the end of the night,
everybody was a winner. Tenor Benjamin Brecher as Count Almaviva
had a more lyrical bent and made a nice contrast to Samsonov.
The difference in their characters andstyles was highlighted
during a first act duet in which Almaviva floats along melody
about love, while Figaro counts out imaginary money. There were
lots of other ensemble bits that also succeeded. Sometimes it
was on a dramatic level, like near the end of act two, when all
five principals crowded around a military captain trying to whisper
in his ears at the same time. More often, it was the music that
spoke, like during a lovely trio in act three. Soprano Viara
Zhelezova played Rosina with girlish charm but sang the role
with a mature and burnished voice. During her opening aria, it
was as if the sound poured out of her whole body before filling
the large house. The bass Viacheslav Pochapsky had a booming
voice and looked like he stepped out of a "Monty Python" skit,
with a boat-like hat and crazy gray hair. Baritone Hristo Sarafov,
as Dr. Bartolo, was also good with physical humor as he got a
shave from a distracted Figaro, the titular barber. The crowd:
about 1,100 adults of all ages was attentive and appreciative."
TIMES UNION - Joseph Dalton – Apr. 2006
Figaro, Figaro, Bravo!
"Daytona Beach Symphony Society ended up its season in the best way possible---with
plenty of sincere applause, and delighted smiles everywhere. The reason was
the nearly flawless Teatro Lirico D'Europa performance of THE BARBER OF SEVILLE.
From the overture's happy notes, played by an orchestra that filled the pit
and spilled over onto the sides of the stage, to the giddy, romantic resolution,
the BARBER OF SEVILLE was absolutely funny, lively and high spirited. As Rosina,
Viara Zhelezova was perky and passionate, and in possession of a powerful,
rich mezzo soprano that fit perfectly with the warm, clear tenor of Benjamin
Brecher, an unusually charismatic Count Almaviva. Baritone Hristo Sarafov was
entertainingly foppish as Dr. Bartolo and Viacheslav Pochapsky, playing the
venal Don Basilio, stunned with his booming bass. Most impressive however was
the opera's central character, as Figaro, the barber of Seville, Shon Sims
was remarkable. It wasn't simply his strong resonant baritone, his acting skills
and witty interpretation of the role were superb. Sims Figaro stood in the
middle of all the action. Besides its atmospheric sets and lighting, what set
Friday's performance apart was how the music was presented; with enormous verve
and real joy; by outstanding singers who were also accomplished actors."
BEACH NEWS-JOURNAL - Laura Stewart – Mar. 2006
THE BARBER OF SEVILLE
"The best you can hope for is an opera without "singers." Give
me a single well-oiled "machine" any day, not a bunch of singers
who interact as if by accident. When individual singers disappear so
deeply into their roles that there's no separating them from the scene they're
building, THEN you've got opera! That happy circumstance existed Monday night
with scintillating results in Rossini's comic BARBER OF SEVILLE at Eissey Campus
Theatre. Monday night's cast worked with the precision and solidarity of a
surgical team. The cast list explained a lot. Soloists of Teatro Lirico D'Europa.
The production felt as comfortable as an old shoe. There was such agreement
among soloists and fine musical grasp of the music that their detailed, vivid
characterizations went well, beyond acting. Figaro's famous aria won a full
minute of applause but the consistently superior performances were from Sarafov
(Barolo) and Zhelezova (Rosina). Every time the mezzo opened her mouth, lovely
sound flooded the hall. She is not only up to Rossina's technical demands,
she retained her luminous high notes and vocal control all evening. In her
mannerisms she was every inch the rebellious hot tempered Spanish girl."
BEACH POST - Sharon McDaniel – Jan. 2006
Teatro Lirico's BARBER brings a barrel of laughs
"Rossini's THE BARBER OF SEVILLE is a comedy so expertly carpentered that
it can still make an audience laugh 189 years after its premier. It did so
again last night at the Majestic Theatre, thanks to Teatro Lirico D'Europa.
It's fun to hear accomplished singers leap over the vocal hurdles and watch
them put their personal stamp on the famous comic scenes. Director Giorgio
Lalov knows how to put all the traditional gags across, but also contributes
some new ones of his own and lets the singers do what works for them. Benjamin
Brecher as the Count is a witty and engaging actor and can actually sing rapid
passagework that many other tenors smear. Shon Sims in the title role turned
in some nimble vocalism and acting. He also played the guitar well enough to
accompany Brecher in his serenade. Hristo Saraov offered a Dr. Bartolo whose
dithering self-delusions because touching as well as amusing. The best singer
was Viara Zhelezova, the Rosina. She has a lovely limber mezzo that she can
move at warp speed, like Cecilia Bartoli. She's charming and musical. Conductor
Martin Mazik is very young and quite talented. There were many lively and elegant
musical details. Constantine Videv as the venal music Master Don Basilo paid
tribute to the audience by sporting a pair of bright red sox."
Dyer - BOSTON GLOBE – Oct. 2005
TEATRO LIRICO'S IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA
A ROLLICKING GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY ALL AT BOSTON'S MAJESTIC
"Teatro Lirico D'Europa has delivered yet again, for Boston audiences,
an entertaining evening of quality opera that is colorful, well sung and acted,
and as professional as you will likely see anywhere else, here or abroad. Teatro
gave Boston a delightful production and what a show it turned out to be. The
production took off and soared and drew the audience into the fun of what was
occurring on stage. Everyone seemed to have a rollicking good time. Here, the
ensemble cast seemed to genuinely enjoy the lighthearted opera that took Rossini
only nineteen days to complete. What impressed most, however, was the fit between
major roles and how well those roles were handled. The fusion of character
to singer, singer to ensemble was smooth and natural and when accompanied by
a supportive orchestra, as was done here, under the leadership of Martin Mazik,
the performance was made thoroughly enjoyable on multiple levels. Credit has
to go to Giorgio Lalov, for his adept stage direction. Fun! The characters
here were so uniformly good and balanced in their presentations that it is
impossible to single out any one. On the production side the sets and costumes
by Valentin Topencharov were traditional, colorful and realistic. The lighting
by Boyukliev was handled well and nicely creative lending to the overall effect
of the performance and mood. In sum, Teatro Lirico d'Europa brought home the
bacon once again for Boston audiences with a production of Rossini's "Il
Barbiere de Siviglia" that was top notch, colorful, well sung, superbly
acted and produced with an eye toward the effect it had on an appreciative
audience. What more can one ask for?"
- Paul Walkowski – Oct. 2005
Comedy tonight! Teatro Lirico's Rossini
"Teatro Lirico d'Europa, the irresistible touring company from Bulgaria,
returned to the Majestic for two familiar works in traditional style. Last
January, Teatro Lirico provided one of the year's best opera experiences, a
single performance of Rossini's beloved Barbiere di Siviglia. It's one of opera's
most delicious scores, including the tingling overture and perhaps the most
famous moment in all opera, Figaro's entrance aria, the "Largo al factotum" ("Figaro!
Figaro!"). "For abundance of ideas, for comic verve, and for truth
of declamation," Verdi wrote, "-the most beautiful opera buffa in
What impressed me most was the extraordinary sense of ensemble.
That's what happens when a group of performers play together
night after night-or should happen. And these singers are full
of play. The shtiks and routines seem anything but routine, as
if the performers were living through these events for the very
first time. This is obviously the spirit that artistic director
and stage director Giorgio Lalov seems to inspire. This season's
new Figaro, American baritone Shon Sims delivered directly to
the audience his rapid-fire patter in the "Largo" with
tip-of-the-tongue fluency. For a moment I thought he was too
full of himself. Last year's Figaro was more appropriately beleaguered
by the overwhelming demands on his talent ("Figaro here!
Figaro there! Figaro up! Figaro down!"). But Sims soon made
Figaro's inventiveness, and impatience with others' foolishness,
part of a rounded characterization. You were always on his side.
An Alec Baldwin look-alike, he's younger and better-looking than
most Figaros, with an attractive ringing tone to match. Also
new to Boston was American tenor Benjamin Brecher, from the New
York City Opera, who-as the amorous Count Almaviva-seems at ease
in both slapstick comedy (Almaviva disguises himself both as
a drunken soldier and a simpering music teacher) and matinee-idol
lyricism. The other newcomer was Bulgarian bass Constantine Videv
as the scandal-mongering music teacher Don Basilio, who sang
the great "Calumny" aria with cavernous torture-chamber
The others were as good as ever. Bulgarian mezzo Viara Zhelezova's
lustrous voice is as mobile as her face, not just singing the
brilliant roulades of her own big introductory aria ("Una
voce poco fa"), but filling each run and trill with character
and innuendo ("I'm docile, obedient, I can be guided, BUT!...
cross me, and I'm a viper!"). Bulgarian baritone Hristo
Sarafov was once again a Bartolo who's as touching as he's buffoonish.
In the small role of Berta the Housekeeper, mezzo Ana Petrova
used her rich voice to delightful effect. One of Rossini's targets
is opera itself. The lovers don't elope in time because, over
Figaro's protests, they must sing a love duet. Lalov's presentational
style-characters addressing the audience directly or in teasing
asides-is exactly right! A major improvement was young conductor
Martin Mazik, who led rather than followed the singers. This
time the orchestra seemed like one of the characters: exploding
and whispering, teasing and tickling, leering and caressing.”
PHOENIX - Lloyd Schwartz – Oct. 2005
BARBER OF SEVILLE delights Audience!
"THE BARBER OF SEVILLE was presented by Teatro Lirico D'Europa on Friday,
Feb. 18 at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts center at UM-St. Louis. The
company was in fine voice and full comic form, and the performance delighted
the packed house. The opera singers were excellent. When baritone Vladimir
Samsonov took the stage in the title role of FIGARO and performed that famous "Figaro,
Figaro" aria with booming bravura and comic vocal flourishes, the audience
response was so overwhelming and the applause so thunderous and sustained that
the star was compelled to quiet the audience just so the opera could continue.
It was a very good start to an artistically excellent performance by the whole
CURRENT - Catherine Marquis-Homeyer – Feb.
BARBER OF SEVILLE Sparkles at the Vet!
"Teatro Lirico D'Europa gave a sparkling rendition of Rossini's Barber
of Seville last night at Veteran's Memorial Auditorium with some funny touches
and dazzling vocal pyrotechnics. This was especially true of soprano Viara
Zhelezova, the feisty Rosina whose ornate fioratura passages were thrilling.
Teatro Lirico has been known for consistent productions that are a cut above
the companies that have come here in the past. Last night's BARBER was not
only well sung, but well acted, with handsome singers who moved well on the
set. Vladimir Samsonov was a hoot as Figaro. The staging was lively and imaginative."
JOURNAL - Channing Gray – Feb. 2005
Teatro Lirico's Classical Barber a Cut Above!
"The little touring company that could began its annual, much anticipated
visit to town Thursday night at the Cutler Majestic Theatre with a solid engaging
performance of Rossini's comedy THE BARBER OF SEVILLE. Baritone Vladimir Samsonov's
Figaro was generous of personality and winningly sturdy of voice. Bernardini
relaxed into a fine performance (Almaviva) as his voice gained in beauty and
suppleness. Zhelezova's supple, finely modulated, silky smooth sound caressed
the ear, and her portrayal of the feisty young woman (Rosina) was spot on.
And Sarafov was the kind of Bartolo who really sings instead of bluffing his
way through the part. As ever with Lalov, the company's artistic director,
this was truly a production of Rossini's opera, not a director's idea of what
that opera should be." BOSTON HERALD - T.J. Medrek – Jan.
Teatro Lirico Returns to Boston with Sparkling Barber!
"It's official. Boston really loves Teatro Lirico D'Europa. The Cutler
Majestic was at near capacity for the single performance of Rossini's IL BARBIERE
DI SIVIGLIA. Rossini demands phenomenal vocal and verbal dexterity from the
entire ensemble - and great comic timing. Those were exactly what Teatro Lirico
brought. It may have been the best production of this familiar opera I've ever
seen. This was very much a cast-centered enterprise. Artistic director Giorgio
Lalov is a conventional, ungimmicky stage director--but there was always a
point. The audience was laughing at all the jokes because the action was always
clear and followable. Here was a perfect example of a cast working together.
Each character related to each of the others. They knew each other and felt
comfortable with each other. And they were all good! Figaro was the engaging
young Russian baritone Samsonov, who has sung with the Bolshoi Opera and Marinsky
Theatre. He was truly the center of this production, commanding the stage with
his wit and charm. His Italian diction was first rate and he has a refined
and ringing tone--burnished copper. He used his voice to bravura effect. Rosina
was Bulgarian mezzo-soprano Viara Zhelezova. Zhelezova, with her long dark
hair and sly smile, is more like a Bulgarian Julia Louis-Dreyfus, with equally
impeccable comic timing, who has the luminous voice and dazzling coloratura
of Cecilia Bartoli. I don't know why she is not a major star. Almaviva was
American tenor Don Bernardini. His strong, focused tone became an impressive
instrument and he too used his body to comic effect. Senior Bulgarian baritone,
Hristo Sarafov must have played the frustrated Dr. Bartolo his entire professional
life. He was a model of good technique and appropriate buffo style. In the
role of Don Basilio, sonorous Russian bass Viacheslav Pochapsky, Teatro Lirico's
profoundly moving Boris Godounov 2 years ago, was hilarious. The singers maintained
a lively pace, and there was never a dull moment. The sets--a Sevillian street
scene and the interior of Bartolo's house were attractively cartoonish. Too
bad there was only one performance.
PHOENIX - Lloyd Schwartz – Jan. 2005
BARBER is a Gem!
"Teatro Lirico D'Europa's production of BARBER OF SEVILLE is a wonderful,
bawdy romp through one of the world's favorite operas. PCA Performances is
to be thanked for bringing this lively lyrical performance to Merrill Auditorium.
The comedic action is first rate with a lot of laugh out loud action. Don Basilio
as sung by bass Viacheslav Pochapsky is one of the jewels of the production
with a wonderful bass voice and sense of humor just as deep. Hristo Sarafov
is an ideal Bartolo. Vladimir Samsonov has the voice and energy to bring the
barber alive. Viara Zhelezova plays the vivacious Rosina as if born to the
PORTLAND PRESS HERALD
- Christopher Hyde – Mar.
McCain 'Barber' one of the best ever
“Aboard Teatro Lirico D'Europa's chartered bus, in company with his collegial
troupe of fellow roving players, Rossini's justly celebrated barber from Seville
arrived in Manhattan this past Friday to delight a sizable McCain crowd with
two and a half hours of dazzling musical artistry and equally adept comic acting.
I've been to quite a number of Barbers over the years, many of them exceptionally
well done. But in all honesty I can't remember ever enjoying (emphasis
on "joy") any Barbiere de Seville more than this one. I
don't expect that Miller's elaborately whimsical sets for the ENO will be topped,
and the Merrill-Peters collaboration was pure gold, but on balance Teatro Lirico's
is the finest overall mounting I can recall. Extravagant praise? True enough.
Excessive? Hardly. I'm only just trying to keep up with the talent. First the
voices. Rossini wrote great arias and ensembles for this opera, but nearly
all of them demand bravura coloratura. Usually only one or two of the leads
really copes very effectively at speed. In this cast, Figaro himself (Shon
Sims), Rosina (Viara Zhelezova), Almaviva (Benjamin Brecher) and Bartolo (Hristo
Sarafov) were all racing demons, articulating rapid-fire strings of notes with
a bright distinctness and dead-on precision of delivery that made a listener's
pre-Valentine's Day heart race. Add to their nimbleness that all these voices
also had charm of tone and timbre, size and range, expressive energy, and interpretive
flexibility, and you have an imposing core of four. Add to them a wonderfully
lugubrious, mendacious, malignant Basiglio (Mikhail Kolelishvili) and Rumiana
Petrova's Berta, the poor level-headed serving maid stuck in the middle of
a madhouse caper, and the supply of vocal capacity is rich indeed. Then there's
the non-vocal part of the job, otherwise known as acting. In olden times we
didn't expect singers to do much multi-tasking. If they sang well, that was
good enough. Nowadays we hope, even expect, that our singers should fit and
fill — without overfilling — their roles. Our program contained
no acting coach credit, and Artistic/Stage Director Giorgio Lalov can't have
taken that task on himself, but somebody has turned a bunch of brilliant opera
singers into brilliant bunch of sitcom actors, replete with mugs, winks, nudges,
kicks, leaps, staggers, and every other requisite farcical move. The level
of across-the-board singing plus acting skills was a marvel to behold. And
did I mention the splendid set (how many touring companies are willing to hire
three moving vans to carry their decor?), the sumptuous costumes, the lighting?
Or the fact that we had a real, live thirty-piece orchestra in the pit that,
under the baton of maestro Krassimir Topolov, managed its own "coloratura" bits,
as well as those delicious Rossini crescendos, with the same dexterity and
vigor as those on stage?
There's just too much about this wonderful evening to recap in
a single column. What a blast. Enough to heat the whole outdoors.”
Nyberg – MANHATTAN MERCURY NEWS – Feb. 2007
About BARBER OF SEVIILE in Wilkes-Barre,
PA – Mar.
I want to thank you and your company for a wonderful performance
last night. Everyone I spoke with had nothing but praise for
the performers, orchestra and production. People left our theater
with a smile on their face knowing they watched a truly professional
opera company. Our Box Office manager commented to me this morning
that this was without a doubt the best opera the company has
ever done, and she has seen the all. Thanks to you and your husband
for a wonderful engagement.”
Director of Programming
F.M. Kirby Center, Wilkes Barre, PA
BARBER in Bethlehem, PA – Nov.
“Jenny - Thank you very much for facilitating
the engagement of Teatro Lirico at Lehigh University. The
production of "Barber
of Seville" was wonderful. The quality of the singers
was exceptionally fine. I particularly enjoyed the performances
of James Bobick, Viara Zhelezova and certainly Mikhail Kolelishvili. In
addition to having remarkable vocal instruments they also brought
well-developed acting talent to the stage. That's a very
happy combination in any opera performance. I would also
like to comment on Martin Mazik, whose skill and talent as a
musician and a leader of the ensembles solidly founded and moved
the production. The audience was pleased and happy.”
Zollener Perf. Arts Center - Bethlehem, PA
BARBER OF SEVILLE in SPRINGFIELD,
MO – Nov. 2007
“The show was wonderful, Jenny…we were all quite pleased with
the production…and especially liked your new Figaro! Lots of good
voices, nice acting and a real spirit of fun in the show. The audience response,
both during the performance and at the end, was enthusiastic. And Anjie said
Giorgio’s master class was great!
Looking forward to next season…hope your holidays are
Director of Marketing and Promotions
Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts
Missouri State University, Springfield, MO
BARBER – Paramount Theatre, Charlottesville, VA – Jan.
It was lovely. I was in NYC but I made sure to get a full report
and staff and audience both loved it. Let’s keep on the
books for next season.”
The Paramount Theater - Charlottesville, VA
Letter from Zoellner Perf. Arts
Center – Lehigh
University July 8, 2008
I wanted to stop for a moment and thank you for your help this
past season. The 2007-2008 GUEST ARTIST SERIES was one of the
strongest, culturally diverse and artistically innovative seasons
that I have been privaledged to present. Teatro Lirico D’Europa’s
production of the BARBER OF SEVILE was integral to the overall
quality of the season and I greatly appreciate your effots in
bringing that program to Lehigh. Please extend my sincere thanks
to the company. The positive feedback that I have received from
our audience indicates to me that we are doing something right
and I look forward to continuing our valued collaboration for
many more successful seasons.”
Director of Programs and Outreach
Teatro’s Barber scores
big at the Phil
By HARRIET HOWARD HEITHAUS
NAPLES DAILY NEWS – Jan. 2009
“Sing fast. Throw shaving cream. How much more fun can opera get?
A good production of “Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber
of Seville)” is a laugh a minute. When it’s larded
with sight gags such those Teatro Lirico de Europa added Thursday,
one yearns to get up on stage and emote right along with their
over-the-top first-act finale, “Che cosa accade.”
There’s a Laurel-and-Hardy-funny Act Two scene in which
the furious Doctor Bartolo, caught like a dog on a leash in his
knotted shaving sheet, lunges vainly after his ward’s lover.
Barber — and lovers’ hired gun — Figaro slings
globs of shaving cream at the crotchety Bartolo, who sprays it
back as he thunders under a thick layer of fluff.
The amorous Count Almaviva, posing as
a music teacher, corrects the old man’s aria to replace the heroine’s name
with that of Britney Spears. Almaviva isn’t without comic
sin himself, training a mirror on his profile as he poses for
his serenade to Rosina. Wigs are pulled from heads. Quick, get
me a banana peel!
The production at the Philharmonic Center
for the Arts was one of opera’s best advertisements, full of quirky personalities,
a welcome happy ending and bel canto —literally, beautiful
singing — arias, Yet it’s grueling work. The coloratura
score looks like bird tracks, sprayed with triplets and four-note
runs. Its orchestral score can overpower it, and the successful
production demands broad personality portrayal, agile vocals
and orchestral flexibility.
This production, at the Philharmonic
Center for the Arts, was a credit to the composer. Peter Danailov,
as the conniving jack of all trades, Figaro’s vocals
are flawless. He is a strong and facile baritone whose cagey
character picks up steam to match his impressive voice as the
Viara Zhelezova proved to be a consistently
satisfying Rosina, full of comic wit, vocally somersaulting
her tricky arias. Benjamin Brecher, the lone American onstage,
is the ardent Almaviva, and he possesses a voice perfect for
the role, vulnerable and flexible.
Brecher only needs some
prodding to add more character to his role in Act One — his cape seems to own him in the opening
scene. By Act Two, however, he’s a thoroughly whacked-out
ersatz music teacher, getting cooey with Rosina with one arm,
the other stretching to reach low notes on the pianoforte, which
he’s playing furiously to allay Bartolo’s curiosity.
If anyone could goad them all into character, it was Hristo
Sarafov as an ineptly villainesque Bartolo, blustering and bumbling
and dense as London fog. His consistent witlessness and outraged
persona pulled everyone into the story.
Joseph Illick, music director of the Fort Worth Opera Company,
was behind the baton Thursday with Naples Philharmonic Orchestra.
Together they cemented the delicious fun with leapfrogging oboe
solos in the overture and skittering violins behind chase scenes.
This was one of the happiest evenings an opera lover could have
spent on the town in Naples.”
NOTE from GM of venue in Green Bay, WI who attended
Naples, FL performance of BARBER OF SEVILLE, Jan. 2009
We enjoyed a wonderful evening in Naples at the performance of BARBER
Figaro stole the show in the early part of the performance. The
presence of a live orchestra really made it a wonderful performance. As
a woodwind player, I was especially impressed by the performance
of the woodwinds, but overall the orchestra did a great job with
excellent coordination with the vocalists. It was a performance
you should be very proud of and I hope we can arrange to have
your company perform on our series in 2010-11. We thank you very,
very much for arranging for the tickets. We had great seats
in the fourth row center section. The Philharmonic is a
very impressive facility. I am anxious to tell my talent committee
and executive board about the performance.”
Brown County Civic Music, Green Bay, WI
“Teatro Lirico d’Europa was back at the Majestic with its delightful Barber of Seville — it was a treat to have back mezzo-soprano Viara Zhelezova, as Rossini’s minx Rosina, and baritone Hristo Sarafov, as Rosina’s hilariously blustery, touchingly infatuated old guardian. American basso William Powers proved an accomplished farceur as Don Basilio, the slander-spreading music master. They don’t just play their parts, they inhabit them.”
BOSTON PHOENIX – Lloyd Schwartz – Feb. 2010