Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” premiered in Rome in 1816 and it’s still going strong two centuries later. Not many musical works can claim such longevity and popularity. Yes, that’s the opera with the famous “Figaro, Figaro, Figarooo” aria, which is actually called Largo al factotum della citta, which, loosely translated, means “Make room for the man who can do everything in this city.”
That man is the barber Figaro, a clever and cunning character who helps Count Almaviva and his love Rosina to outwit her grumpy old guardian Bartolo who keeps Rosina captive in his house and plans to marry her himself. It’s a love triangle of sorts – and there are other complications – but there’s no tragedy here. “Barber” is an opera buffawhere comedy and glorious music unite to entertain and delight.
The character of Figaro and the stories of his life were created by French playwright Pierre de Beaumarchais who devoted three plays to the subject. Rossini based his opera on the first one, while Mozart, a composer from another land and time, turned the second play “The Marriage of Figaro” into an almost equally popular and enduring staple of the operatic repertoire.
This weekend, Opera San Antonio will present “Barber” as its second and final production of the 2016-17 season on May 6 and 7, at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The production was originally created by the Glimmerglass Opera Festival, and comes to OSA from the North Carolina Opera, says the press release. What this means is that the sets, costumes and basic approach to staging were developed for Glimmerglass but the San Antonio show will be directed by E. Loren Meeker, a director with an international reputation. The key roles are portrayed by outstanding soloists: Luis Ledesma (Figaro); Sarah Coburn (Rosina) and tenor Andrew Owens as Almaviva, all of whom have appeared in multiple operas both in the U.S. and in other countries.
To learn more about the work and the composer, you can attend a pre-performance lecture given by Dr. Kevin Salfen, an associate professor of music at the University of the Incarnate Word. These lectures are usually quite informative and fun. The opera itself is appropriate for the entire family and is probably a great work to introduce novices to the operatic art.
Tickets at www.tobincenter.org or call 210-223-8624. You can also buy them in person at the box office, 100 Auditorium Circle, 78205.
Photos: Luis Ledesma; Sarah Coburn