Friday, April 24, 2015, Overture Hall, 8 pm
The Madison Opera presents one of the earliest romantic comedies, The Barber of Seville, about a young couple and their hilarious attempts to marry despite all obstacles. The production will conclude the 10th anniversary of the company’s partnership with the Overture Center, and will be accompanied by pre- and post-show events. ALSO: Sunday, April 26, 2:30 pm.
Madison Opera Presents The Barber of Seville
Rossini’s classic comedy returns to Madison Opera for the first time in 12 years
Madison Opera presents Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville on Friday, April 24 and Sunday, April 26 in Overture Hall. These performances mark Madison Opera’s first production of this most popular of operas in twelve years, as well as the classic comedy’s first presentation in Overture Hall.
One of the earliest romantic comedies, The Barber of Seville tells how Figaro, the title character, helps Count Almaviva and Rosina outwit the latter’s guardian, bringing about a wedding in the final scene. Multiple disguises, love notes passed in secret, and even a music lesson are used to bring the young couple together. Since its first performance in 1816, Barber has been an international hit, with Figaro’s aria “Largo al factotum” becoming perhaps the most famous opera aria of all time.
“The Barber of Seville was one of the first operas I fell in love with,” says Kathryn Smith, Madison Opera’s general director. “Rossini’s musical brilliance is unique, and the way the music literally sparkles is one of its most enduring characteristics. It’s a genuine pleasure to share one of the all-time great operas with our community.”
This will be the first time John DeMain, Madison Opera’s artistic director, has conducted The Barber of Seville in Madison, and he considers it a perfect conclusion to the company’s 10th anniversary in Overture Hall. “The effervescent strains of Rossini's scintillating score should be especially vibrant in the glorious acoustics of Overture Hall,” he says. “It will be like drinking musical champagne.”
A dynamic, young cast brings this witty comedy to life. Emily Fons, a Wisconsin native who debuted with Madison Opera at Opera in the Park 2012, returns for her first main stage role with the company. These will be her first performances of Rosina, a role she sings later this summer at Opera Theatre of St. Louis and next season at Pittsburgh Opera.
Making his debut opposite her is tenor John Irvin, a recent graduate of the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, who also sang Count Almaviva for Lyric Opera’s family performance. Another recent Ryan Opera Center graduate, baritone Will Liverman, makes his Madison Opera debut as the illustrious barber Figaro, a role he has previously sung at Utah Opera and in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s family performance.
Two Madison Opera favorites return in key roles. Alan Dunbar, whose most recent appearances were in Dead Man Walking and the Overture 10th Anniversary Celebration, sings Rosina’s guardian, Dr. Bartolo. Thomas Forde, who sang Judge Turpin in Madison Opera’s recent Sweeney Todd, sings Don Basilio, the music teacher and purveyor of gossip. Madison Opera Studio Artist Chelsea Morris sings her first principal role as Berta, and baritone Trevor Martin makes his debut as Fiorello. Directing this traditional staging is Doug Scholz-Carlson, who directed The Tender Land and The Turn of the Screw for Madison Opera.
“I am thrilled with this cast,” says Smith. “Rossini requires a lot of vocal teamwork, and it’s exciting to produce the opera with singers who are perfectly matched to their roles and to each other.”
The public has many ways to find out more about The Barber of Seville, starting on March 27 with Opera Novice, a free presentation on opera and cartoons. Opera Up Close provides an in-depth discussion of the piece, including a roundtable with The Barber of Seville artists, on April 19. Also continuing are free one-hour previews at the public libraries in Sun Prairie, Fitchburg, Waunakee, and Madison Central.