The Lyric Opera kicked off its 2019/2020 season with the original production of The Barber of Seville this weekend, arguably the most famous operatic comedy. Running a little over three hours long with one intermission, the opera is sung in Italian with English subtitles. Tickets start at $49 and can be purchased here.
The Barber of Seville, or The Useless Precaution is an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini. The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais’s French comedy Le Barbier de Séville (1775). The première of Rossini’s opera (under the title Almaviva, o sia L’inutile precauzione) took place in February of 1816 at the Teatro Argentina in Rome, with designs by Angelo Toselli.
Irrepressible Rosina refuses to marry her pompous old guardian. Meanwhile, a bold young count is eager to win Rosina for himself. And who’s going to make sure those two finish the opera united? The cleverest character in all of Seville: the barber Figaro, whose services are sought after by everyone for everything (the guy has a lot more talents than just cutting hair). Rossini’s music—the aural equivalent of champagne—is the last word in humor, inspiring smiles and laughter on every page of the score, which is what makes Barber the most popular of all operatic comedies.
The Barber of Seville features a terrific international cast in a sparkling original Lyric production. Czech bass-baritone Adam Plachetka is Figaro, the clever barber-fixer who solves everyone’s problems. American tenor Lawrence Brownlee plays Count Almaviva, who pays Figaro to help him woo and win the beautiful Rosina (French mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa), the unhappy ward of Dr. Bartolo (Italian baritone Alessandro Corbelli), who wants to marry her for her money. Polish bass Krzysztof Bączyk (American operatic debut) portrays the comically conniving music master Don Basilio.
This is the fifteenth time Lyric has presented The Barber of Seville and the first time that Lyric’s music director Sir Andrew Davis will conduct it here. (Stefano Sarzani will conduct the Oct. 18 performance.)
The Rob Ashford production features gracefully airy set designs by Scott Pask, charming costumes by Catherine Zuber, and atmospheric lighting by Howard Harrison. The production team members have collectively won 11 Tony Awards for their work on Broadway. Tara Faircloth is the revival director. Michael Black is chorus master. Sarah Hatten is wigmaster and makeup designer.
The Barber of Seville is now playing at Chicago’s own Civic Opera House located at 20 North Upper Wacker Drive.
The Local Tourist invitation for two to the opening night performance courtesy of The Silverman Group, Inc.
Photos by Todd Rosenberg.