Opera Grand Rapids’ Barber of Seville Charms and Delights

Opera Grand Rapids is presenting a limited engagement of The Barber of Seville, a lighthearted comedic opera in two acts. The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini premiered in 1816. Its subject is Count Almaviva’s pursuit of the lovely and spirited Rosalina, whom he encountered by chance in Madrid. The union of the two is complicated by the fact that Rosalina’s misanthropic ward Dr. Bartolo wants to marry the young woman. He is assisted in this objective by his friend Basilio, Rosalina’s tutor. Because he has access to the household, Figaro, is recruited by Almaviva to act as liaison to Rosalina, and hilarity ensues. The audience can easily follow the plot thanks to the projection of translated lyrics above the stage.

The gregarious and opportunistic Figaro, is a character from a series of plays by the 18th century French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais. There were five operas inspired by Beaumarchais’ original comedic works featuring Figaro, three from the 18th century, including Mozart’s, Marriage of Figaro, and two in the first quarter of the 19th century, including Rossini’s. As it happens, The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is featured in May of the 2018 season of Opera Grand Rapids.

Operas as we know them started in 17th century Italy, during the Baroque period. Opera seria includes musical and vocal arrangements, choreography, costumes, impressive sets, and a melodramatic storylines that often focus on mythological or heroic characters from antiquity. Comedic opera, or opera buffa, are shorter productions featuring more prosaic characters. Plots involve amorous themes, clever lyrics, physical humor, and jabs at the folly of human behavior. In short, it is the musical/theatrical equivalent of rococo art. Opera seria is like a formal seven course dinner, comedic operas like Barber, are a brunch buffet — everyone will find something that appeals to their appetite.

Every production by Opera Grand Rapids includes local and national artists. The chorus and orchestra is comprised of local musicians. The producer and conductor for Barber are Bernard Uzan, and Leonardo Vordoni. The three principle characters are performed by professionals from the national opera community: Corey McKern is Figaro, David Margulis plays the role of Count Almaviva, Ginger Costa-Jackson is Rosina. Kevin Langan is her tutor Basilio, a role he’s played for the Toledo Opera, and Opera Carolina, as well as Opera Grand Rapids. Bass-baritone Peter Strummer almost steals the show in his role as Dr. Bartolo, Rosina’s ward.

Opera Grand Rapids
Barber of Seville, May 12 & 13
DeVos Performance Hall
Grand Rapids, MI
Tickets start at $25
Student admission $5 (must present valid school ID)

Interested patrons can attend the final dress rehearsals of Opera Grand Rapids productions thanks to sponsorship of the West Michigan Collegiate Consortium sponsors admission.