Benedum Center for the Performing Arts
April 5, 8, 10
7 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 2 p.m.
Its legendary aria has been covered by everyone from Mrs. Doubtfire to that pesky Woody Woodpecker, it reigns as the world’s 8th most performed opera, it’s been adapted for multiple films, and it is even featured in one of the most popular Bugs Bunny cartoons of all time (hint: “Rabbit of Seville”).
In case you missed opening night of Pittsburgh’s Opera‘s The Barber of Seville at the Benedum, you have three more chances to catch this creative new twist on an iconic work by the prolific composer Gioachino Rossini. A reworking of Rossini’s two-act “opera buffa” (read: an Italian comic opera), the contemporary version has never before been staged in Pittsburgh.
Opera lovers will follow along for all of the madcap comedy, as Almaviva falls in love with the virtuous and beautiful Rosina—a heroine held captive by Bartolo who aims to wed her—and calls upon the town barber Figaro to assist him.
Originally set in 18th-century Spain, The Barber of Seville first premiered in 1816 at Rome’s Teatro Argentina. Featuring an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini that’s based on comedic works by French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais, The Barber of Seville artfully blends storytelling, comedy and music, and is considered to be one of opera’s greatest masterpieces.
Switching up the setting and the era, Pittsburgh Opera’s premiere of the brand new version is set in glamorous, 1950s Hollywood. No longer a doctor treating Rosina as his ward, Bartolo is instead reimagined as a powerful movie producer keeping his studio’s starlet captive, while Almaviva disguises himself as a film student. Throughout the lively production, audiences will encounter familiar faces from Hollywood’s heyday, as well as storied moments from the American film industry’s golden age.
A production that is sure to appeal to opera aficionados and neophytes alike, the family-friendly Barber of Seville also makes for a good date night, or a group outing with the kids. The opera’s rousing and recognizable overture—and the famous aria, “Largo al factotum,” (a.k.a. “Figaro! Figaro! Fig-a-ro!”)—are among the most legendary musical pieces in opera history, and will have you tapping and nodding along.
Performing the memorable role of Rosina is Corrie Stallings, who drew rave reviews for her portrayal of Jo March in Pittsburgh Opera’s sold-out performances of Little Women. The talented ensemble cast—who will display their vocal chops and comedic timing—features two former Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artists. Portraying Figaro is Jonathan Beyer, while Bartolo is played by Pittsburgh native Kevin Glavin, who has been dubbed “possibly the funniest man in opera” and is the former owner of a North Side bar.
The opera is sung in Italian, with English supertitles projected onto a screen above the stage. And with tickets starting at $12, this is one opera that won’t break the bank. Appropriate for elementary age children and up.
For a sneak peek, check out the opera’s performance videos.