Sunday, April 3, 2016

Pittsburgh Opera Promises Hilarious "The Barber of Seville"

Mayhem! Music teacher Basilio (Brandon Cedel) shields himself from an assault by Count Almaviva (Michele Angelini), who is disguised as Lindoro disguised as a drunken soldier. Photo by David Bachman.

  Pittsburgh Opera is staging the comic opera, “The Barber of Seville,” and Rossini’s madcap comedy is guaranteed to send audiences out laughing and humming a tune.
    Count Almaviva is in love with the beautiful Rosina, who’s  essentially being held captive by the slimy Bartolo, who wants to marry her himself. With the help of the barber Figaro, Almaviva and Rosina attempt to outwit Bartolo and live happily ever after.
    THE BARBER OF SEVILLE is the perfect introductory opera. It features recognizable music, comedic staging, fun costumes and a happy ending.
“Well, this is awkward.” Studio hair stylist Figaro (Jonathan Beyer) feels a little out of place as Almaviva (Michele Angelini) and Rosina (Corrie Stallings) share a long-awaited kiss. Photo by David Bachman.
The opera has assembled an amazing ensemble cast – which includes two former Resident Artists with tremendous personalities, Kevin Glavin and Jonathan Beyer – and the Pittsburgh debut of Michele Angelini, who has received superlative reviews around the world in his role. Antony Walker conducts.
• Sung in the original Italian with projected English titles
• All performances at the Benedum Center
Act I
    Count Almaviva comes disguised as a student to the film studio of producer Dr. Bartolo and serenades starlet Rosina, whom Bartolo keeps under contract and closely guarded. Figaro, the barber-turned-hair stylist and make-up artist who knows all the town’s scandals, arrives.  He explains to Almaviva that Rosina is Bartolo’s protégée, not his daughter, and that the producer intends to marry her. Figaro devises a plan: the Count will disguise himself as a drunken soldier with orders to be assigned to Bartolo’s studio so that he may gain access to the girl. Almaviva is excited and Figaro looks forward to a nice cash reward.
    Enchanted by the Count’s serenade, Rosina resolves to use her considerable wiles to meet its owner, whom the Count leads her to believe is a poor student named Lindoro. Bartolo appears with Rosina’s music director, Don Basilio. Basilio warns Bartolo that Count Almaviva, who has made known his admiration for Rosina, has been seen on the Seville set. Bartolo decides to marry Rosina immediately. Figaro, who has overheard the plot, warns Rosina and promises to deliver a note from her to Lindoro. Bartolo suspects that Rosina has indeed written a letter, but she outwits him at every turn. Angry at her defiance, Bartolo warns her not to trifle with him.
    Almaviva arrives, creating a ruckus in his disguise as a drunken soldier, and secretly passes Rosina his own note. Bartolo is infuriated by the stranger’s behavior and noisily claims that he has an official exemption from casting guest soldiers. Figaro announces that a crowd has gathered outside, curious about the argument they hear coming from inside the studio.  The sheriff bursts in to arrest Almaviva, but when the Count secretly reveals his true identity to the official, he is instantly released. Everyone except Figaro is amazed by this turn of events.

Act II
    Bartolo suspects that the “soldier” was a spy planted by Almaviva. The count returns, this time disguised as Don Alonso, a music coach and student of Don Basilio. He announces he will give Rosina her music lesson in place of Basilio, who, he claims, is ill. “Don Alonso” tells Bartolo that he is staying at the same hotel as Almaviva, and has found a letter from Rosina. He offers to tell her that it was given to him by another woman, seemingly to prove that Lindoro is toying with Rosina on Almaviva’s behalf. This convinces Bartolo that “Don Alonso” is indeed a student of the scheming Basilio, and he allows him to give Rosina her music lesson. She sings an aria, and, with Bartolo dozing off, Almaviva and Rosina declare their love.
    Figaro arrives to give Bartolo his shave, and manages to snatch the key that opens the doors to the studio’s balcony. Suddenly, Basilio shows up, looking perfectly healthy. Almaviva, Rosina, and Figaro convince him with a quick bribe that he is sick with scarlet fever and must go home at once. While Bartolo gets his shave, Almaviva plots with Rosina to elope that night. But the producer overhears them and furiously realizes he has been tricked again.
    Bartolo summons Basilio, telling him to bring a notary so Bartolo can marry Rosina that very night. Bartolo then shows Rosina her letter to Lindoro, as proof that he is in league with Almaviva. Heartbroken and convinced that she has been deceived, she agrees to marry Bartolo. A thunderstorm rages. Figaro and the Count climb a ladder to the film studio’s balcony and let themselves in with the key. Rosina appears and confronts Lindoro, who finally reveals his true identity as Count Almaviva. Basilio shows up with the notary. Bribed and threatened, he agrees to be a witness to the marriage of Rosina and Almaviva. Bartolo arrives with the others, but it is too late. Almaviva explains to Bartolo that it is useless to protest and Bartolo accepts that he has been beaten. Figaro, Rosina, and the Count celebrate their good fortune.

- courtesy of Opera News, freely edited

Rosina (Corrie Stallings) and Almaviva (Michele Angelini) announce their nuptials to the sheriff (Jesse Davis). Photo by David Bachman.

    THE BARBER OF SEVILLE's recognizable music, madcap humor, comedic staging, and fun    costumes make it the perfect opera for everyone - kids, adults, opera neophytes and die-hard fans. April 2 - 10, 2016 at the Benedum Center, Downtown Pittsburgh.  For tickets, phone 412-456-6666 or

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