Figaro, Figaro, Figaro! These three words are recognizable to even those who have never heard of this classic production. This brilliant comedy, in English, will be moved from 1880s Seville, Spain to the 1990s in Seville, Florida. There will be a glitter beard contest, a live haircut, and drinks will be served by members of the cast. Intrigued?
CAST & CREATIVE
The role of Rosina is underwritten by the Impresarios of Opera Columbus.
Director – Mary Birnbaum
Conductor – Viswa Subbaraman
Assistant Director – Nora Winlser
Set Designer –Grace Laubacher
Costume Design – Amanda Seymour
Lighting Designer – Anshuman Bhatia
Stage Manager – Danielle Ranno
ASM – Melissa Belman
ASM – Chloe Rawlins
Costume Shop Supervisor – Marcia Hain
Props Master – Kevin Carty
Rehearsal Pianist – Barbara Brenton Sahr
Rehearsal Pianist/Chorus Master – Anthony Benz
FROM THE DIRECTOR
A perfect Giacomo Rossini story from Gaia Servadio’s excellent biography of the composer:
“Rossini’s next opera…Ciro in Babilonia… was a flop on its first night… as usual, Rossini pretended to make a joke of it all and, when he returned to Bologna, he ordered a marzipan ship and invited friends to eat it. ‘On the pennant there was the name Ciro. The ship’s mast was broken, its sails were in tatters and and the whole thing lay shipwrecked in an ocean of cream. Amid great hilarity, the happy gathering devoured my shattered vessel.’”
I love this story for Rossini’s unerring sense of the ephemerality of live music-theater, for how his humor and connection to other artists gave him as much creative satisfaction as the art itself.
Rossini’s operas, particularly “The Barber of Seville”, features human beings at their most resourceful, imaginative and sparkling; the stories are about unlikely love affairs and freedom (usually freedom to love despite difference or circumstance) triumphing over oppression. Rossini’s opera was the pop music of its day, and he was arguably more prolific than the most prolific pop composer of our time, penning 41 operas in less than 20 years.
Taking this notion of pop and running with it, we set the story in the American 1990’s, a decade of iconic bubblegum pop music and rebellious teenage girls (think “Clarissa Explains It All” or “My So-Called Life”.) In searching for an American equivalent of Seville, Spain, we found Seville, Florida, populated by 200 people (at times) and a fitting place for Doctor Bartolo to have secreted away Rosina. I searched for opportunities for audience interaction, the kind that might have happened in Rossini’s day when audiences were more vocal at the opera. Lastly, I translated the libretto into English, striving to maintain Rossini’s rhyme scheme and syllabic flow while attempting to translate the humor that gets lost when an audience is reading supertitles rather than truly listening. The final ingredient is you, the audience, who we’ll ask to help us channel Rossini’s spirit to make Opera Columbus’ production of “The Barber of Seville” something irreverent, joyous and uniquely theatrical.
Before dawn, outside the Bartolo residence in Seville, Florida. The incognito Count Almaviva (an international playboy and DJ) serenades Rosina, who he has followed from Miami after falling in love with her from afar. The Count hides when he hears someone coming. It’s Figaro, the Barber of Seville. Figaro brags about all of his talents while cutting the hair of a passerby. The Count, who knows Figaro from before, emerges from the shadows and greets his friend. Almaviva tells Figaro that he’s in Seville for love of the woman inside the house. Figaro marvels at the coincidence; he’s very close to the family! Figaro spills the details about Rosina, a minor who is living with Doctor Mario Bartolo. Just one catch: Bartolo intends to marry Rosina to get her inheritance. On Figaro’s advice, Almaviva re-serenades Rosina and tells her his name is Lindoro. Rosina answers but is suddenly pulled away from the window. The Count begs Figaro to help him date Rosina and to make sure she is interested in more than the Count’s money and fame. After the Count promises Figaro adequate compensation, Figaro hatches a plan, which involves the Count dressing up as a drunk soldier who is stationed at the Bartolo house overnight. The friends part ways.
Inside the Bartolo house, Rosina vows to make Lindoro hers, whatever it takes. Doctor Bartolo’s friend Don Basilio has heard that Almaviva is in town and interested in Rosina and pitches Bartolo a plan to smear the Count’s name. Figaro arrives and tells Rosina that the Count is interested in her and ascertains her interest in the form of a mix-tape that Rosina made for the Count. Bartolo catches wind of Rosina’s desire and threatens to lock her in the house. Berta, the maid, opens the door for the soldier (Almaviva). When Almaviva requests overnight lodging, Bartolo pulls out his certificate of exemption and Rosina finds out that the army guy is in fact Lindoro in disguise. The Count begins play-fighting with Bartolo and he tells Rosina to drop her bandana. He slips a note (a red-herring) into it, the laundry list, which ends up humiliating suspicious Bartolo. Figaro arrives to try to calm everyone down but Almaviva and Bartolo escalate their argument. The police arrive and try to get to the bottom of it, but just as they decide the Count is to blame, he reveals his true identity and they, fearing the Count’s powerful lawyer, back off their allegations. The rest of the party is very confused and between the complications of the morning and with the hot Florida sun, they all jump in the pool.
The trials and tribulations of the morning behind him, Bartolo breathes a sigh of relief. Just then, there’s a knock at the door. It’s Count Almaviva who is disguised as Don Alonso, voice teacher. He claims to be subbing in for Don Basilio, who is sick with the flu. When Bartolo is hesitant to admit him, “Don Alonso” swears will help sabotage Count Almaviva and Bartolo races to fetch Rosina. Rosina sings her favorite Italian aria from her favorite opera “The Patriarchy Crumbles” and as Bartolo snoozes, Rosina and “Lindoro” make love to each other. Bartolo wakes up and disses Rosina’s music. Figaro arrives to give Bartolo his weekly shave. Figaro distracts Bartolo and obtains the key to Rosina’s room, as Almaviva plans with Rosina to meet at midnight and run off to Miami.
Unfortunately for Figaro and the Count, Don Basilio arrives and everyone convinces him to leave before he exposes all their lies. Then, Figaro, the Count and Rosina convince Bartolo he is crazy and Figaro and Almaviva use the diversion to escape. Berta recaps the plot of the opera so far. Bartolo, in a last-ditch attempt to win Rosina back, tells her that Lindoro is planning on kidnapping her to take her to the evil Count Almaviva. She swears to get back at him, revealing their plan, and Bartolo hurries to fetch Basilio so he can get the Notary to sign their wedding contract. Evening sets and there is a storm and the power blows out. At midnight, Almaviva and Figaro sneak into Rosina’s room where she is waiting to fight them. After she explains how disappointed she is that he’s not Lindoro, Almaviva knows that Rosina is in love with more than his money and fortune and reveals that he is both Count and Lindoro. Everyone’s thrilled, except for Figaro who wants to make sure Bartolo doesn’t arrive and catch them.
Basilio and the Notary arrive and stumble around in the dark looking for Bartolo and are intercepted by Figaro who demands the Notary and Basilio authenticate the marriage certificate of Rosina and Count Almaviva. Bartolo arrives and all are discovered. Almaviva reveals his true identity to Bartolo, who is defeated at last. All toast to love, which will forever light their way.
+ Capital University Chorus
+ The Juilliard School, ADOS program
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