Posts Tagged ‘bug bunny’

The Opera Novice visits The Barber of Seville

Figaro (Krassen Karagiozov) gives Dr. Bartolo (Silas Elash) a shave. Photo by Robert Shomler.

Rossini’s Barber of Seville at Opera San Jose turns out to be a great introduction to opera, probably the best possible choice if you’re looking for one to try.  Every red blooded, television watching American child was introduced to Rossini at a very young age through the Looney Tunes Bug Bunny cartoon Rabbit of Seville (see below).  But having watched that seven minute short hundreds and hundreds of times (no exaggeration there), I still expected that the actual Barber of Seville would be a long, boring, stuffy opera.   I never would have expected that the real opera was even funnier than the Bug Bunny cartoon.

The excitement began for my guest and me as soon as the familiar overture music started.  All of the music from this opera is peppy, upbeat and, most important to a beginner, familiar.  We couldn’t help bouncing around in our chairs to the music during the introduction, half expecting Bugs himself to appear when the curtain went up.  We were dancing around through the entire opera, except for the moments when we were laughing too hard.

The uproarious laughter from the entire theatre almost never stopped.  Barber of Seville is a hilarious few hours of jokes, concealed identities, more jokes, and mischievous hijinks.  Rosina is a delightful, petite, spunky young lady with a large dowry and protected from the world (and other men) by her much older ward, Dr. Bartolo.  A young man, Count Almaviva, has managed to spot Rosina and enlists the barber of Seville to help him gain her hand in marriage.  This involves creating several different disguises, and playing lots of jokes on Bartolo.  Betany Coffland played Rosina on opening night, and I thought she was amazing.

Count Almaviva (Michael Dailey) and Rosina (Betany Coffland) prove that love conquers all! Photo by Pat Kirk

There were several young people in the audience on opening night, including even some small children, yet I never heard any rustling or cries of boredom.  Perhaps they were just drowned out, but I suspect the kids were laughing as hard as were the adults.  I noticed at one point that I wasn’t even reading the subtitles; the physical comedy and actions on stage told the entire story without help. The Barber of Seville is like Looney Tunes for grownups.

I thought the music was OUTSTANDING, and congratulations go out to conductor Bryan Nies and the rest of the orchestra.  I went straight home and downloaded every piece of music from the opera I could find.  And, okay, I also watched Bugs Bunny again as well.

Even after an entire year of unexpectedly enjoying the opera, I never thought I would say this, but for a really fun evening out, go see The Barber of Seville.  I even recommend taking your family, your entire family, and that includes the young ones.

The Barber of Seville
by Gioachino Rossini
Libretto by Cesare Sterbini
Based on
Le Barbier de Séville and Le Mariage de Figaro by Beaumarchais
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
February 12 – 27, 2011

The Rabbit of Seville
Woody Woodpecker does Barber of Seville

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