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School of Music


Barber of Seville cast

Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!

Opera at USC presents the much-loved comic opera, Il Barbiere di Siviglia Feb. 26–28

Based around the antics of the delightfully cunning barber called Figaro, Gioachino Rossini’s much-loved comic opera boasts some of the most entertaining and well-known arias in the opera repertoire. From trickery and disguises to serenading in the moonlight, Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) is filled with liveliness and comedy at every twist and turn.

Rossini’s 19th-century masterpiece, set in the roaring ‘20s for this production, features a slew of high-spirited characters that go to great lengths in search of friendship and love, encountering hilarious situations along the way. Composer Giuseppe Verdi called Rossini’s Barber the greatest comic opera ever written.

Opera at USC’s captivating production will be sung in Italian with English supertitles and takes place Friday through Sunday, February 26, 27 and 28 at Drayton Hall Theater (1214 College St.) on the University of South Carolina campus. Performances on Friday and Saturday start at 7:30 p.m. Sunday’s performance is a matinee at 3:00 p.m. Maestro Neil Casey conducts the Opera at USC Orchestra.

Figaro, whose impressive entrance aria, Largo al factotum, with its repeated proclamations of his own name, is one of the best-known of all opera arias.

“I bet more of you than care to admit it were first introduced to Il Barbiere di Siviglia by a certain ‘wascally wabbit.’ Or a more recent audience may recall the opening sequence of Mrs. Doubtfire where the venerable Robin Williams sings Largo al factotum as a cartoon voiceover. That’s OK because I’d like to believe musical bon vivant Gioachino Antonio Rossini would have embraced the spirit of that cartoon and all the fun others have had over the past 200 years. And fun is what we get with Barber.” – Director of Opera at USC Ellen Douglas Schlaefer

The Barber of Seville was commissioned at the end of 1815 when Rossini was not quite 24 years old by the impresario of the Teatro Argentina where it premiered in Rome on February 20, 1816. Legend has it that Rossini wrote the opera in just 13 days and was paid 1,200 francs plus a hazel-colored suit.

The opera was a disaster on its premier; The commissioning impresario Duke Sforza-Cesarean died on 6 February, and the opening night two weeks later was marred by stage accidents and persistent disruption by followers of Rossini’s nemesis, the composer Giovanni Paisiello. Rossini, who conducted the first performance and was contractually obligated to conduct all the scheduled performances, was greatly affected by the furor and declined to conduct the remaining performances. Happily, that was not the end of Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

While other works of Rossini’s were more popular at the time, Barber grew in popularity throughout the capitals of Europe, and it was the first opera presented in Italian in New York City in 1825 by the Garcia family troupe at the Park Theatre. It has proven to be one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy within music, and even after two hundred years, it remains a popular production.

Tickets on sale now

General admission tickets $25; DISCOUNTS: seniors, USC faculty/staff and military $20; students $7. Purchase tickets online, call 803-777-5369 or purchase at the door.

PLEASE NOTE! Online and phone sales for Opera at USC's Il Barbiere di Siviglia close at 3:00 Feb. 26. Tickets are available at the door one hour before the performance.

BIOS

The roles of Bartolo and Berta are double cast.

Michael David Gray plays Count Almaviva who has fallen in love Rosina, the ward of Dr. Bartolo. Gray is a doctoral student in vocal performance at USC. He has appeared as a featured soloist with Asolo Song Festival throughout Venice and Northern Italy as well as with local productions.

Michael Lu plays Bartolo, a doctor and Rosina’s guardian, who is also in love with Rosina. Lu is a senior at USC pursuing a degree in vocal performance. He was the recipient of Columbia Music Clubs and Palmetto Mastersingers vocal scholarships.

John Siarris, baritone, plays Bartolo and is a senior voice performance major at USC. He has had many operatic roles and has participated at Harrower Opera at Georgia State University, Festival of International Opera of the Americas in Brazil, and Opera Breve in Witchita Falls. This is his eighth production with Opera at USC.

Madeline Beitel, mezzo-soprano, plays Rosina, wealthy pupil in Bartolo’s house. Beitel is working toward her Master of Music in Opera Theater and has appeared in Opera at USC and The Quisisana Resort in Maine.

Jacob Rothman plays Figaro the barber. Rothman is a first-year master’s student pursuing a degree in Opera Theater at USC. During his undergraduate degree in vocal performance at North Florida, he performed roles in productions from Cosí fan tutte, Marriage of Figaro and The Mikado among others.

Abraham Hardy plays Basilio, Rosina’s music teacher. He is a senior pursuing a vocal performance degree at USC and is a member of Carolina’s premier choral ensemble, USC Concert Choir. Hardy has appeared in Opera at USC and Maine’s Quisisana Resort productions.

Rachel Johnson plays the maid in Bartolo’s house. She is a junior pursuing a vocal performance degree at USC. She appeared in Opera USC’s production of Candide and Cosí fan tutte.

Lauren Clark plays the maid in Bartolo’s house. She is a first-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Music degree in choral conducting at USC.

Nicholas Hawkins plays police sergeant Fiorello. He is a senior pursuing a vocal performance degree at USC and is a member of Carolina’s premier choral ensemble, USC Concert Choir. He has appeared in several Opera at USC productions.

Gerald Floyd (guest artist) plays Ambrogio, Bartolo’s servant. Guest artist Gerald Floyd plays Ambrogio, his third role with Opera at USC. Floyd has performed roles in more than 65 productions on Columbia stages.

Luke Melnyk (guest artist) joins the company for his fifth production with them. He has attended USC School of Music’s summer opera camp for several years.