|Megan Roth, mezzo-soprano||Rosina|
|Michael Kuhn, tenor||Count|
|Bill McMurray, baritone||Figaro|
|Brandon Morales, bass-baritone||Bartolo|
|James Harrington, bass||Basilio|
|Kimberly Christie, soprano||Berta|
|Jason Buckwalter, baritone|
|Catrin Davies||Stage Director|
For an opera whose music is likely the most recognizable in popular culture, Rossini’s The Barber of Seville had an inauspicious beginning.
The third operatic adaptation of Pierre Beaumarchais’ 1775 comic play of the same name, Rossini’s version premiered in 1816, too closely on the heels of another composer’s popular production. His friends disrupted the debut, and combined with ill-prepared actors, Rossini’s opera seemed fated for early obscurity.
Yet the gentle comedy about separated lovers with its memorable music survived its disastrous start and became one of the world’s most popular operas. The first, in fact, to be sung in Italian in the United States in 1825, this story of an enterprising barber and matchmaker graces Farmville this June.
Set in Seville, the opera begins with Count Almaviva serenading Rosina, a young woman who is closely watched by her older guardian, Doctor Bartolo. Fearing, though, that she may love his title more than him, the young count identifies himself as Lindoro, a poor student. Rosina appears briefly at her window before being hustled away by servants.
Heartbroken, Almaviva is discovered on the street by Figaro, Seville’s barber and “fixer,” who enters singing opera’s most famous aria. Figaro tells the lovelorn nobleman that Bartolo wants to marry his ward himself, but that he can help Almaviva get access to the objection of his affection. He advises the count to disguise himself as a drunken soldier who is supposed to be billeted in Bartolo’s house. Both leave, one more optimistic, and the other, richer.
In the meantime, Rosina thinks longingly of the “student” serenading her and decides to write him a letter. However, now wise to Almaviva’s desire for his ward thanks to Rosina’s gossipy music teacher Don Basilio, the doctor decides to marry her quickly. Figaro overhears this, and warns Rosina, who gives the barber and intermediary her letter for the disguised count.
Almaviva/Lindoro arrives at the Doctor’s house disguised as a soldier and causes a ruckus in order to create a diversion so that he can woo Rosina. Bartolo foils the ruse by saying he is exempt from quartering soldiers. The count escapes arrest by discretely revealing his identity to the police and then leaves, but not before he exchanges letters with Rosina.
Figaro’s next plan to get his benefactor access to Bartolo’s house and Rosina involves disguising the “student” as a substitute music teacher. “Don Alonso” arrives and tries to win the suspicious Bartolo’s trust by sharing Rosina’s letter that he “found” and claiming that Lindoro is scheming to kidnap Rosina and sell her to Count Almaviva.
The music lesson begins, and after Rosina recognizes “Lindoro,” they express their mutual affection. Figaro arrives to shave Bartolo and manages to steal the balcony key so that the lovers can elope that night.
Everything goes awry, though, when Basilio appears. The quick-witted barber manages to convince Basilio he has scarlet fever. However, Bartolo’s suspicions are raised, and he requests a notary be sent so that he can marry Rosina that very night. The Doctor gains her assent by revealing to her the alleged plot of Lindoro and Almaviva. Distraught and vengeful, Rosina agrees to marry her guardian.
A storm mirrors the heroine’s emotional turmoil, and after it quells, Almaviva and Figaro ascend to the balcony via a ladder. She confronts the former, who reveals his true royal identity. All is forgiven between the two ecstatic lovers, but an obstacle to their elopement is discovered when it’s revealed that the ladder has been moved and that Basilio has arrived with the notary to marry Rosina to Bartolo.
When the music teacher and officiant enter Rosina’s room, the quick-thinking Figaro tells the latter to marry Rosina and the Count. Basilio balks at being a witness until persuaded by a roll of cash and an ominous looking pistol by Almaviva. They are wed, and a crestfallen Bartolo accepts reality and blesses the young couple.
Featuring disguises among disguises and memorable aria after aria, the Summer Garden Opera is proud to share the comedy and music of The Barber of Seville with you this year!