Rossini's The Barber of Seville, February 11 to 21, 2016

THE BARBER OF SEVILLE

Music by Gioachino Rossini
Libretto by Cesare Sterbini

Based on the play Le Barbier de Séville by Pierre Beaumarchais

February 11, 13, 19, 2016, at 8 pm
Wednesday, February 17, at 7 pm
Sunday, February 21, at 2:30 pm

The Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton St.

In Italian with English surtitles
Approximate running time: 145 minutes, including one intermission
Pre-performance talk 1 hour before curtain


 

Above: Scenes from Pacific Opera Victoria's production of The Barber of Seville, with Clarence Frazer, Sylvia Szadovszki, Antonio Figueroa, Peter McGillivray, Giles Tomkins, Geneviève Lévesque, Nathan McDonald, Andrew Erasmus. Timothy Vernon conducts the Victoria Symphony; Giuseppe Pietraroia directs the Pacific Opera Chorus. With Director Morris Panych, Set Designer Ken MacDonald, Costume Designer Dana Osborne, Lighting Designer Kim Purtell, and Fight Director Jacques Lemay.
Shine-ola Communications.


 

Media
Overview
Cast and Creative Team
Synopsis
Resources and Links

Video / Musical Selections
Keynotes Online Newsletter
Keynotes Newsletter (PDF)
Study Guide (PDF)
Production Photos


 

Media

  • A Rollicking Rossini: Adrian Chamberlain of the Times Colonist reviews the opera (download pdf).

    If you don't love a good Barber of Seville (and this is a good one), you don't love life ... Pacific Opera Victoria has hatched a lively, springy Barber worth seeking out ... strong singing ... whimsical period costumes ... thrilling high notes ...
    Arguably, the most unforgettable component ... is its jaw-dropping set ... inspired by the organic architecture of Antoni Gaudi ... a fantastic confection, both modern and timeless ... a work of art.

  • Opera singer steps into Figaro's shoes for a second time
    Pamela Roth of the Victoria News talks with Clarence Frazer, the baritone who portrays Figaro in The Barber of Seville.

    He's just an all around good guy and he's a lot of fun ... he's just a joyous soul ... It's always nice to play a baritone role who's not evil.

  • Partners in life, art and The Barber of Seville
    Morris Panych and Ken MacDonald share two important things: a similar sense of humour and like-minded ideas on what makes for compelling theatre. Adrian Chamberlain of the Times Colonist talks with the director and set designer for POV's The Barber of Seville.

  • Pacific Opera Victoria's Barber of Seville includes dynamic duo
    Morris Panych and Ken MacDonald met at the Belfry Theatre more than 30 years ago and have collaborated on close to 100 shows together since. The director and set designer for POV's The Barber of Seville talk with Monday Magazine's Kevin Underhill about finding the perfect balance in their personal and professional lives.


 

What on earth is all this love which makes everyone go mad?


Rosina and Almaviva are definitely not star-crossed lovers. They have fallen in love at first sight and will allow nothing to stop them from getting married. With a little help from the busybody Figaro, they devise an arsenal of tricks to outwit Rosina's guardian, who has designs on her himself. The enterprising trio proves that the road to true love is paved with theft, lies, bribery, brawling – and wicked comedy.

With its byzantine plot twists and irresistible, earworm-inducing music, Rossini's rollicking farce is an exuberant conspiracy on behalf of youth, hope, and the delirious joy of first love.

With the Victoria Symphony and the Pacific Opera Chorus


 

Synopsis

Act 1

It is dawn. Accompanied by a band of hired musicians, Count Almaviva sings a serenade (Ecco ridente in cielo / Lo, in the smiling sky) under Rosina's window. When she fails to appear, he resigns himself to paying the musicians and sending them away.

Almaviva hides as Figaro swaggers in on the way to his barbershop. Figaro sings about how much he loves his job (Largo al factotum della città! / Make way for the factotum of the city). His services are in constant demand: he is the local barber, hairdresser, surgeon, and matchmaker, and he knows all the town's secrets.

Recognizing Figaro as his former servant, Almaviva confides that he has followed the girl of his dreams from Madrid to Seville, and now waits, night and day, beneath her balcony. Figaro congratulates him and reveals that the girl's elderly guardian, Dr. Bartolo, is bent on marrying Rosina for her fortune. Moreover, Figaro, in his capacity as barber and jack of all trades, has entrée to the house.

While the pair are talking, Rosina drops a letter to Almaviva, asking his name and explaining that her guardian keeps her a virtual prisoner. When Dr. Bartolo leaves the house to make arrangements to marry Rosina, the Count strikes up another serenade. To make sure Rosina loves him for himself and not his title and wealth, he tells her his name is Lindoro and that he is poor, but loving and faithful.

Almaviva promises to pay Figaro well if he'll get him inside Bartolo's house. Figaro comes up with a brilliant idea: Almaviva will disguise himself as a drunken soldier who is to be billeted in the house. They head off to put the scheme into action. Almaviva is afire with love and hope, Figaro with anticipation of the gold that will soon line his pockets.

Act 1, Scene 2

Inside the house, Rosina reflects on the voice that has thrilled her heart (Una voce poco fa / A voice just now) and makes it clear just how much trouble she'll cause if she doesn't get her own way: I am docile, I am respectful, I am obedient, sweet and loving ...But if crossed in love, I can be a viper.

Figaro eavesdrops as Bartolo tells Don Basilio, the Music Master, that one way or another he'll marry Rosina. Basilio warns that Count Almaviva has arrived in town in pursuit of Rosina and suggests they get rid of him by starting a rumour that will destroy his reputation and drive him out of Seville (La calunnia è un venticello / Calumny is a little breeze). Bartolo determines to draw up the marriage contract immediately.

Figaro tells Rosina what he has overheard and assures her that Lindoro loves her; she is thrilled, although he has merely confirmed what she already knows (Dunque io son / Then it is I). Figaro urges her to write her lover a note as a token of affection. She pretends to be too shy, but then, to Figaro's astonished admiration, produces a letter she has already written. Figaro takes it, promising that Lindoro will be with her soon.

Certain that Rosina has written to someone and believing none of her excuses, Bartolo declares that he's going to lock her in her room. The Count, in his drunken soldier disguise, bursts in, demanding lodging. As Bartolo hunts for his official exemption from billeting soldiers, Almaviva slips a note to Rosina. Bartolo notices and demands the note, but not before Rosina has exchanged it for a laundry list. Bartolo and the Count quarrel, and the ensuing row draws a crowd. The police arrive and arrest Almaviva; he privately reveals his identity to the officer, who promptly releases him, to the bewilderment of everyone except Figaro.

Act 2

As Bartolo muses about the rowdy soldier, he is interrupted by the return of Almaviva, this time disguised as a music teacher substituting for Don Basilio, who has suddenly fallen ill. Bartolo is suspicious until Almaviva brings out Rosina's letter, claims he found it by accident, and offers to do Bartolo a favour: he'll tell Rosina that the letter was given to him by a mistress of the Count; this will prove that the Count is merely toying with her affections.

This sounds so much like the kind of scheme Don Basilio would concoct that Bartolo welcomes "Don Alonso" and fetches Rosina for her lesson. Rosina exclaims in surprise when she recognizes "Lindoro", but quickly covers by saying she has a cramp in her foot.

The music lesson starts. Rosina sings a number from the new opera, The Futile Precaution. As Bartolo dozes off, she sings that her guardian is a ruthless tyrant and begs Lindoro to get her out of there. Figaro shows up, insisting that he must shave Bartolo that very moment. Bartolo grumblingly lends Figaro his keys to fetch towels, giving him the opportunity to steal the key to Rosina's bedroom window. When Don Basilio suddenly turns up in perfect health, Figaro and the lovers convince him that he looks deathly ill and send him away, helped by a little bribe to buy medicine.

Figaro shaves Bartolo, distracting him as the couple plan to elope that night. But Bartolo overhears just enough to realize he's being tricked, and furiously drives them all away.

Bartolo's housekeeper, Berta, complains about her grouch of a boss and the way love makes everyone go crazy, then deplores her own fate as an old maid.

Bartolo sends Basilio to fetch the notary so that he can marry Rosina that evening. He then shows Rosina the letter she had written to "Lindoro," convincing her that Lindoro is not to be trusted.

As a thunderstorm rages, Figaro and the Count arrive to rescue Rosina. When she reproaches "Lindoro" for toying with her affections, the Count reveals his true identity, and the lovers are reconciled. As they go to leave, they find the ladder is gone. At that moment, Basilio arrives with the notary. Figaro tells the notary to marry the young couple and bribes and threatens Basilio until he goes along with the change in plans.

Bartolo, who had removed the ladder, storms in with the police, but it is too late. Bartolo grudgingly joins everyone in wishing the happy couple a long and loving life together.

Maureen Woodall


 

Resources and Links

Reading List from the Greater Victoria Public Library
Librarians from the Greater Victoria Public Library have offered to create book/music lists that tie in to POV performances. Thanks to Jennifer Rowan, Adult Services & Programs Coordinator, and to Sarah Isbister for providing the following list for The Barber of Seville.
To borrow these materials, visit your library branch or go online at http://gvpl.ca

  • A History of Opera: The Last Four Hundred Years by Carolyn Abbate, 2012
  • The Barber of Seville: A Comic Opera in Two Acts [music score] by Gioacchino Rossini
  • The Best of Rossini [CD] by Gioaachino Rossini, 1997
  • The Birth of An Opera: Fifteen Masterpieces from Poppea to Wozzeck by Michael Rose, 2013
  • La Cenerentola [CD] by Gioaachino Rossini, 1993
  • The Figaro Plays by Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, 1997
  • Living Opera by Joshua Jampol, 2010
  • The Most Beautiful Opera Houses In the World by Antoine Pecqueur, 2013
  • True Tales From the Mad, Mad, Mad World of Opera by Lotfi Mansouri, 2012
  • Who Married Figaro?: A Book of Opera Characters by Joyce Bourne Kennedy, 2008

The Barber of Seville

Gioachino Rossini

  • Wikipedia's overview of the life of Rossini , who retired at the age of 37, a rich man with 39 operas to his credit. LThe Barber of Seville was number 17 and premiered just days before Rossini's 24th birthday.

  • Tournedos Rossini: Rossini was known for his love of food and wine (he was Italian, after all), and he was a fine amateur chef. Here are some anecdotes about Rossini's culinary propensities, along with a recipe for the most famous of several dishes named after the composer: Tournedos Rossini (calorie count not provided).

    Legend has it that Rossini shed tears only three times in his life: the first time after the fiasco of his first opera; the second when he heard Niccolo Paganini play the violin and the third when a picnic basket containing turkey stuffed with truffles unfortunately fell overboard during a boat trip.

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

  • Wikipedia article on Beaumarchais: Meet the harp teacher, gun-runner, secret agent and watchmaker, who created three plays featuring Figaro, the wily barber turned valet.

  • How to stage a revolution: An article on Beaumarchais by Michael Billington, Theatre Critic for The Guardian.

    Beaumarchais, the dramatist behind The Marriage of Figaro and The Barber of Seville, was more than a mere playwright – he shaped the 18th century.

  • Beaumarchais and the American Revolution: The CIA Website details Beaumarchais' exploits as an international secret agent who shipped guns to American Revolutionaries.

Barber-ology

  • From Haircuts to Hangnails – The Barber-Surgeon: An entertaining article by Elizabeth Roberts, MA, CPC, surveying the history of Barbers and Barber-Surgeons.

    Up until the 19th century barbers were generally referred to as barber-surgeons, and they were called upon to perform a wide variety of tasks. They treated and extracted teeth, branded slaves, created ritual tattoos or scars, cut out gallstones and hangnails, set fractures, gave enemas, and lanced abscesses. Whereas physicians of their age examined urine or studied the stars to determine a patient's diagnosis, barber-surgeons experienced their patients up close and personal. Many patients would go to their local barber for semi-annual bloodletting, much like you take your car in for a periodic oil change.

  • Medicine and Opera: The Barber-[Surgeon] of Seville: An article by Dr. Enid Rhodes Peschel and Dr. Richard E. Peschel, both from the Yale University School of Medicine. Knowledge of Figaro's medical background and of the historical conflicts between doctors and barber-surgeons adds another dimension for appreciating the opera.

The Barber and Bugs Bunny

  • The composer behind Bugs Bunny introduced a generation to classical music. An eye-opening discussion of Carl Stalling, the composer behind the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes. Writing music for animation isn't as simple as you'd think!

    [Stalling] spent 22 years working every day with a 50-piece orchestra at Warner Bros. Studios. He ultimately scored in excess of 600 cartoons at the rate of one score per week between 1936 and 1958. Stalling borrowed melodies from everyone but said that 80 to 90 percent of the music he wrote was original because it had to be carefully timed to match the specific action on the screen.

    Includes a fascinating video: Looney Tunes – Behind the Tunes


 

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