Austin Opera culminates its 2015-16 Season with one of Gioachino Rossini’s perennial favorite, The Barber of Seville, support provided by the Georgia B. Lucas Foundation Fund at Austin Community Foundation.
Rossini’s beloved comic opera returns to the repertoire with a cast that is sure-to-please. Jennifer Rivera as Rosina, Troy Cook as Figaro, and Patrick Carfizzi as Dr. Bartolo will charm and dazzle you with their Rossinian vocal fireworks. And we’re thrilled to welcome back Jamie Offenbach as Don Basilio, following his wonderful performance as Mephistopheles in Faust. Rossini’s musical wit glints through every scene of this delightful comedy, one of the most playful and popular ever written!
Stage director Alain Gauthier has found success with his recent production of Dead Man Walking at l’Opera de Montréal where he won the Opus Award for the “Event of the Year”. Gauthier will bring his artistic and directorial strengths to the Long Center stage to emphasize the opera’s beautiful music and hilarious comic timing.
The Barber of Seville features the Austin Opera Chorus and the Austin Opera Orchestra.
An Opera in two acts, sung in Italian with English translations projected above the stage.
Learn more about the artists, production team, and the synopsis.
Watch as Debut Artist Troy Cook performs a “Largo al factotum” from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (starting at 5:05). Austin Opera is proud to bring the talents of Mr. Cook whose rich vocal inflections will surely enhance this beloved opera classic.
Count Almaviva – Juan José de León*
Figaro – Troy Cook*
Dr. Bartolo – Patrick Carfizzi*
Rosina – Jennifer Rivera*
Don Basilio – Jamie Offenbach
Berta – Lisa Alexander
* Austin Opera debut
Composer: Gioachino Rossini | Libretto: Cesare Sterbini| Conductor: Richard Buckley | Stage Director: Alain Gauthier | Chorus Master: Julian Reed | Scenic Designer: Peter Dean Beck | Costume Designer: Susan Memmott Allred | Lighting Designer: Kathryn Eader
More about our Principal Artists:
Troy Cook, baritone singing Figaro – American baritone Troy Cook recently debuted with the Hamburgische Staatsoper as Marcello in La bohème, where he also performed his first Ford in Falstaff in the spring of 2010, and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte. His first recording was just released by the Opera Rara Label, singing the role of Lusignano in Donizetti’s Caterina Cornaro to rave reviews.
Recent appearances include performances as Paolo in Simon Boccanegra with Kentucky Opera, Riccardo in Boston Lyric Opera’s I puritani, Marcello in La bohème with Pittsburgh Opera and North Carolina Opera, and the Marquis de la Force in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites with Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Mr. Cook also appeared in concert this season with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and Winston Salem Symphony. Future seasons include performances with Opera Philadelphia, San Diego Opera, and Dallas Opera.
Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Les pêcheurs de perles– “But the opera belonged to Cook, whose Zurga seemed like the only human being onstage. His resplendent baritone is always a pleasure, but beyond that you really believed in the complexity of his character. Most of all, his simple act of sacrifice becomes the agent of sanity in this insane but oddly rewarding piece of musical theater, and in his bracing final aria you realized that “Pearl Fishers” is really just a love triangle in which somebody had to give in for sake of friendship.” – Paul Horsley, The Kansas City Star
Central City Opera, Show Boat – “Cook is a commanding presence as the flawed romantic lead, gambler Gaylord Ravenal, capable of switching quickly from high comedy to heartrending pathos and again to suave romance. Gorgeously presenting several signature songs, including “Make Believe,” Cook is always the center when onstage.” – Kelly Dean Hansen, The Daily Camera
Jennifer Rivera, mezzo-soprano singing Rosina – Has earned a spot as one of the most sought after and versatile lyric mezzo-sopranos of her generation by consistently delivering exceptional vocalism, superb musicianship, and a powerful stage presence. Her successful European debut as Sesto in La clemenza di Tito with the Teatro Regio di Torino directed by Graham Vick and conducted by Roberto Abaddo was followed by her debut with the Berlin Staatsoper as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Nerone in a new production of Agrippina conducted by Rene Jacobs. She was then invited to sing Licida in L’Olimpiade by Pergolesi at the Innsbruck Early Music Festival, and returned to the Berlin Staatsoper as both Rosina, and as Ismene in a new production of Antigone by Traetta conducted by Maestro Jacobs.
Jennifer Rivera has received prizes in several competitions, including the Operalia Competitionheld in Madrid, Spain, in which she was a finalist who performed in the Gala Concert conducted by Placido Domingo; the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in which she was the winner of the Eastern Region and a national Semi-Finalist; the George London Foundation, the Opera Index Competition, the Gerda Lissner Foundation, the Licia Albanese Puccini Competition, and the Richard F. Gold Shoshana Foundation Career Grant. She attended Boston University for her undergraduate degree and The Juilliard School for her Master’s degree. She is a native of California, and currently resides in New York City.
Inssbruck Early Music Festival, La Stellidaura Vendicante – “Jennifer Rivera sang the title role with a luminous mezzo-soprano and reacted keenly to the opera’s swiftly changing moods. She made a standout of an aria about a tormented lover in which graceful melodic sequences anticipate the tuneful Neapolitan style to come.” – George Loomis, The New York Times
Boston Baroque, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria – “Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera sang the role of Ulisse’s faithful wife Penelope. She demonstrated a powerful sound in the role’s low tessitura and her warm-timbred voice suited both Penelope’s mournful languishing and steadfast character.” – examiner.com
Juan José de León, tenor singing Count Almaviva- Juan José de León is capturing the attention of audiences and critics alike. Hailed for his “big voice,” and “versatility,” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) the young tenor is rapidly-bursting onto the operatic scene. In the 2012-13 season Mr. de León completed his residency with the Pittsburgh Opera where he appeared as Matteo Borsa in Rigoletto, Paolino in Il Matrimonio Segreto, and Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola.
Mr. de León also joined The Wolf Trap Opera in the summer of 2013 where he performed the roles of Count Libenskof in Il Viaggio a Reims and Dr. Caius in Falstaff. Concert work this season includes the I Sing Beijing American Debut at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center accompanied by The New York City Orchestra as well as the tenor soloist in Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Erie Philharmonic.
He opened the 2013-14 season making his Metropolitan Opera company debut with the American premiere of Nico Muhly’s new work, Two Boys (American Congressman).
Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, The Magic Flute – “Juan José de León sang a wonderful Tamino. The tenor has already shown a big voice and versatility as one of Pittsburgh Opera’s resident artists. His Mozart was stylishly heroic as well as tender of heart” –Mark Kanny, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Seville. Count Almaviva comes in disguise to the house of Doctor Bartolo and serenades Rosina, whom Bartolo keeps confined to the house, beneath her balcony window. Figaro the barber, who knows all the town’s secrets and scandals, arrives. He explains to Almaviva that Rosina is Bartolo’s ward, not his daughter, and that the doctor intends to marry her. Figaro devises a plan: the count will disguise himself as a drunken soldier with orders to be quartered at Bartolo’s house so that he may gain access to the girl. Almaviva is excited and Figaro looks forward to a nice cash pay-off.
Rosina reflects on the voice that has enchanted her and resolves to use her considerable wiles to meet its owner, whom the count leads her to believe is a poor student named Lindoro. Bartolo appears with Rosina’s music master, Don Basilio. Basilio warns Bartolo that Count Almaviva, who has made known his admiration for Rosina, has been seen in Seville. Bartolo decides to marry Rosina immediately. Figaro, who has overheard the plot, warns Rosina and promises to deliver a note from her to Lindoro. Bartolo suspects that Rosina has indeed written a letter, but she outwits him at every turn. Angry at her defiance, Bartolo warns her not to trifle with him.
Almaviva arrives, creating a ruckus in his disguise as a drunken soldier, and secretly passes Rosina his own note. Bartolo is infuriated by the stranger’s behavior and noisily claims that he has an official exemption from billeting soldiers. Figaro announces that a crowd has gathered in the street, curious about the argument they hear coming from inside the house. The civil guard bursts in to arrest Almaviva but when he secretly reveals his true identity to the captain he is instantly released. Everyone except Figaro is amazed by this turn of events.
Bartolo suspects that the “soldier” was a spy planted by Almaviva. The count returns, this time disguised as Don Alonso, a music teacher and student of Don Basilio. He announces he will give Rosina her music lesson in place of Basilio, who, he says, is ill at home. “Don Alonso” tells Bartolo that he is staying at the same inn as Almaviva and has found a letter from Rosina. He offers to tell her that it was given to him by another woman, seemingly to prove that Lindoro is toying with Rosina on Almaviva’s behalf. This convinces Bartolo that “Don Alonso” is indeed a student of the scheming Basilio, and he allows him to give Rosina her music lesson. She sings an aria, and, with Bartolo dozing off, Almaviva and Rosina express their love.
Figaro arrives to give Bartolo his shave and manages to snatch the key that opens the doors to Rosina’s balcony. Suddenly Basilio shows up looking perfectly healthy. Almaviva, Rosina, and Figaro convince him with a quick bribe that he is sick with scarlet fever and must go home at once. While Bartolo gets his shave, Almaviva plots with Rosina to elope that night. But the doctor overhears them and furiously realizes he has been tricked again. Everyone disperses.
Bartolo summons Basilio, telling him to bring a notary so Bartolo can marry Rosina that very night. Bartolo then shows Rosina her letter to Lindoro, as proof that he is in league with Almaviva. Heartbroken and convinced that she has been deceived, she agrees to marry Bartolo. A thunderstorm rages. Figaro and the count climb a ladder to Rosina’s balcony and let themselves in with the key. Rosina appears and confronts Lindoro, who finally reveals his true identity as Almaviva. Basilio shows up with the notary. Bribed and threatened, he agrees to be a witness to the marriage of Rosina and Almaviva. Bartolo arrives with soldiers, but it is too late. Almaviva explains to Bartolo that it is useless to protest and Bartolo accepts that he has been beaten. Figaro, Rosina, and the count celebrate their good fortune.
The Barber of Seville is a romantic comedy about the beautiful Rosina, pursued by the dashing Count Almaviva, who is determined to rescue her from the captivity of Doctor Bartolo. As Rosina has recently inherited a fortune, Bartolo selfishly attempts to win Rosina for himself. Only the crafty Figaro, a local barber from Seville, can hatch a clever plan to ensure that Almaviva wins Rosina’s hand.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to introduce you to some of the lively and interesting characters who populate the world of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. We’ve asked Austin Opera’s Artistic Director & Principal Conductor, Richard Buckley, to answer some key questions about each of them.
Here are his thoughts about Figaro, the barber of Seville:
1. What are some interesting things that audience members should know about Figaro?
Figaro, a barber, is extremely bright and always working to control situations that unfold, but from behind the scenes. Because of this, he’s able to walk not only among people of his societal stature, but among royalty and the wealthy. He’s trying to be a social climber, but from a servant’s position in the world.
2. How does Figaro feel about the activities that are happening around him?
The events that transpire in the piece allow him to help Rosina, his friend, make money and gain influence with Count Almaviva. Being able to manipulate various situations with Dr. Bartolo, whom he does not respect, gives Figaro lots of control and satisfaction.
3. What are some words you would use to describe Figaro?
Smart, inventive, creative, opportunistic, self-assured and kind.
4. What is a typical reaction that Figaro has to things that happen in the piece?
He thinks quickly when the unexpected happens, always working to turn the current situation into an outcome he wants.
5. What is the most interesting thing to note about this particular operatic character?
“Largo al Factotum” is the famous aria that Figaro sings in the piece. It is known worldwide, and was featured in some of the Warner Brothers’ Bugs Bunny cartoons in the 1950s. Listen for it and you’ll know it immediately!
Here are his thoughts about Dr. Bartolo, the antagonist of the opera:
1. What are some interesting things that audience members should know about Dr. Bartolo?
Dr. Bartolo is set up as a classic comic figure. He thinks he’s in control of what’s going on around him, but everybody else really is. He also thinks that he’s still handsome enough to win Rosina’s hand in marriage. He isn’t!
2. How does Dr. Bartolo feel about the activities that are happening around him?
He feels that he is always right, and that the world is wrong. Various situations transpire in the opera that he attempts to deal with in a rational way, but they turn comic because he’s looking at a very skewed view of the world.
3. What are some words you would use to describe Dr. Bartolo?
Angry, suspicious, fumbling, egotistical, and stubborn.
4. What is a typical reaction that Dr. Bartolo has to things that happen in the piece?
His typical reaction is to yell at the world when things don’t go his way.
5. What are some things to note about the singer who portrays Dr. Bartolo in the opera?
The singer portraying this role must be a great bass who can sing many fast notes (which is the style of Rossini). In addition to vocal agility, he also has to be able to play the comic. This is what separates good singers/actors from great ones in this particular role. Happily, we have a great one!
Here are his thoughts about Count Almaviva, the leading man of the opera:
1. What are some interesting things audience members should know about Count Almaviva?
Even though he’s royalty, he’s very comfortable interacting with the common man. He’s willing to put himself into situations in which a nobleman often wouldn’t, which adds to the fun of the piece. He very much turns out to be the comedian in the opera.
2. What does Count Almaviva think about all of the situations that are developing around him?
He is totally blinded by his infatuation for – and love of – Rosina. Because of this, he doesn’t think. He just pursues his goal with relentless abandon.
3. What are some words you would use to describe the Count?
Straight-forward, romantic, untrusting (of another character in the opera), and a trickster
4. What really drives him to take the actions that he does in the piece?
He sincerely wants a relationship based upon love, and that drives everything he does.
5. What are some things to note about the singer who portrays Count Almaviva in the opera?
The singer portraying him must be vocally agile, and able to convey different emotional points-of-view quickly. Given the multiple “roles” he plays (in various disguises) in the piece, he must both be believable as the person he really is, and as the person (or persons) he is pretending to be.
Here are his thoughts about Rosina, the heroine of the opera
1. How does Rosina grow as a character throughout the story?
Rosina is first introduced to us by her singing the aria, “Una Voce Poco Fa.” In this aria, she tells of seeing Lindoro (who is really Count Almaviva in disguise) and decides that he will be hers. Given this, she must outwit her guardian, Dr. Bartolo. Rosina is always clever and capable of manipulating the situation at hand.
2. What do you think Rosina might think of the activity that is swirling around her in the opera?
Rosina will always get her way. She is amazed that Dr. Bartolo is attempting to control her, but she takes comfort in the fact that Figaro, the barber, is a good friend who will come to her aid. She mistrusts Don Basilio, the music teacher, and enjoys plotting against Dr. Bartolo. Through all of this, she continues to be infatuated with Lindoro.
3. What five adjectives would you use to describe her?
She’s smart, sassy, coquettish, pretty and quick.
4. How does Rosina relate to the other characters in the piece?
She’s a friend to Figaro, who helps her gain access to the outside world. She deals with Dr. Bartolo as an overprotective parental-style guardian. She distrusts Don Basilio, because she knows that he schemes with Dr. Bartolo, and that he’s always swayed by money. Her favorite character, of course, is Lindoro (Count Almaviva), with whom she is head over heels in love.
5. What, in your opinion, makes Rosina a “stand out” in the opera?
The use of coloratura in her aria, and the speed of it, is dazzling. She also must have an evenness of tone and vocal color in all ranges.
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