Opera San Jose presents the ‘Barber of Seville’

The madcap story unfolds fast and furious in 18th-century Seville, Spain.

Krassen Karagiozov as Figaro in The Barber of Seville. Photo by Chris Ayers.
Krassen Karagiozov as Figaro in The Barber of Seville. Photo by Chris Ayers.

Opera San José continues its 27th Season with Rossini’s delightful comic opera, The Barber of Seville. The charming tale of a clever young woman, her eager lover, and their resourceful accomplice, Figaro, The Barber of Seville is a tuneful testament to all that’s wonderful about fun and romance. Eight performances are scheduled from February 12 through 27 at the California Theatre, 345 South First Street in downtown San José. Tickets are on sale at the Opera San José Box Office, by phone at (408) 437-4450 or online at www.operasj.org. This production of The Barber of Seville is made possible, in part, by a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José.

Krassen Karagiozov as Figaro in The Barber of Seville. Photo by Chris Ayers.
Krassen Karagiozov as Figaro in The Barber of Seville. Photo by Chris Ayers.

The madcap story unfolds fast and furious in 18th-century Seville, Spain. Young Rosina is a wealthy orphan and the ward of a grasping old codger, Dr. Bartolo, who is plotting to marry her not only for her beauty, but for her substantial dowry. However, Rosina has two things on her side: the handsome Count Almaviva, who has fallen in love with her, and the town barber, Figaro, her conniving accomplice, who through clever disguises and quick wit succeeds in securing victory for the young couple.

Composed thirty years after Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, The Barber of Seville is based on the first of French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais’s trilogy of plays, Le Barbier de Séville (1775). With a libretto by Cesare Sterbini, Rossini’s masterpiece is full of effervescent music and never-ending wit. It contains some of the most popular music in opera, from the easily recognizable overture to the refrain “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!” in the aria “Largo al factotum.” The Barber of Seville is the most admired of Rossini’s comedic works and according to Opera America, is in the top five operas performed in the United States.

Italian composer Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) is highly regarded as one of the great opera composers of the 19th century. Rossini began his operatic career at the age of eighteen and would compose roughly forty operas, his last at the age of 37. His comedic operas The Barber of Seville, La Cenerentola, The Italian Girl in Algiers, and The Turk in Italy remain his most popular works, as well as Guillaume Tell (William Tell), primarily remembered for its famous overture. His serious operas are rarely performed today, as they require a vocal prowess that is rare.

Bryan Nies returns to Opera San José to conduct The Barber of Seville. Earlier this season he served as assistant conductor for the West Coast premiere of Carlson’s Anna Karenina. Previously, he conducted for Opera San José’s Eugene Onegin, and shared conducting duties for the company’s productions of Manon, La rondine, Werther, The Barber of Seville (2006), The Crucible and A Masked Ball. Nies is the newly appointed director of opera and orchestra at San José State University as well as assistant conductor of the Oakland East Bay Symphony and the resident conductor of the Oakland Youth Orchestra. Ming Luke will conduct the February 24 and 27 performances. He made his company debut as assistant conductor for Eugene Onegin and was chorus master for Così fan tutte. Luke currently serves as assistant conductor for the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra, general director and conductor of the Napa Valley Youth Symphony, and chorus master of the Sacramento Opera, among others.

José Maria Condemi, who recently staged the highly acclaimed Madama Butterfly for San Francisco Opera, returns to Opera San José as stage director for The Barber of Seville. Condemi earned rave reviews for his stage direction of the company premiere of Puccini’s La rondine last season. Previous directorial credits with Opera San José include The Magic Flute (2008), Don Pasquale (2003), and L’elisir d’amore (2000). Condemi is the artistic director for Opera Santa Barbara. His other directing venues include Lyric Opera Chicago, Canadian Opera Company, Seattle Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Portland Opera, Minnesota Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Lake George Opera, Festival Opera, Western Opera Theater, and Houston Grand Opera.

The Barber of Seville is a revival of Opera San José’s 2006 production with original designs by Matthew Antaky (sets) and Cathleen Edwards (costumes). New for the 2011 production is lighting design by Kent Dorsey, and wig and makeup design by Jeanna Parham.

Baritones Krassen Karagiozov and Adam Meza alternate in the role of the quick-witted barber of Seville, Figaro. Karagiozov is a third-year member of Opera San José’s resident company and recently appeared as Count Vronsky in Carlson’s Anna Karenina and Angelotti in Tosca. Other roles performed with the company include Lescaut (Manon), Dandini (La Cenerentola), Count Almaviva (The Marriage of Figaro), Rambaldo (La rondine), the title role of Eugene Onegin, Sgt. Belcore (The Elixir of Love), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) and Escamillo (Carmen). Meza returns to Opera San José after appearing as De Brétigny in the company’s 2009 – 2010 production of Manon. He made his company debut as Morales (Carmen) during Opera San José’s 2008 – 2009 season. He has performed extensively throughout the Bay Area including North Bay Opera, Livermore Valley Opera, Bay Area Summer Opera Theatre, West Bay Opera, Pocket Opera, Cinnabar Opera and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Sharing the role of the plucky Rosina are mezzo-sopranos Betany Coffland and Cathleen Candia. Opera San José resident artist, Betany Coffland, appeared earlier this season as Dolly in the West Coast premiere of David Carlson’s Anna Karenina. Coffland joined the resident company during the 2008 – 2009 season, performing the roles of Olga (Eugene Onegin), Dorabella (Così fan tutte), and the title role in Carmen and last season, appeared as Javotte (Manon), Angelina (La Cenerentola), and Cherubino (The Marriage of Figaro). Candia made her Opera San José debut during the 2009 – 2010 season as Rosette (Manon) and Tisbe (La Cenerentola). A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she made her professional debut singing the roles of Lola (Cavalleria Rusticana) and Grisette (Merry Widow) with West Bay Opera, and Third Lady (The Magic Flute) with the AIMS Festival Orchestra.

Tenors Michael Dailey and Chester Pidduck share the role of Rosina’s devoted young lover Count Almaviva. Dailey is in his third year as a member of Opera San José’s resident company and appeared earlier this season as Levin in Anna Karenina. Previous seasons have featured Dailey as Prunier (La rondine), Don Ramiro (La Cenerentola), Des Grieux (Manon), Don José (Carmen), Ferrando (Così fan tutte), Nemorino (The Elixir of Love), and Lensky (Eugene Onegin). Pidduck makes his company debut with The Barber of Seville. His recent performances include Rodolfo (La bohème) for Opera San Luis Obispo and Mission City Opera, and Remendado (Carmen) for the Mendocino Music Festival. For the San Francisco Opera’s a la Carte program, he performed Tonio in The Daughter of the Regiment.

Baritone Torlef Borsting and Bass Silas Elash alternate as Rosina’s infatuated and pompous guardian Dr. Bartolo. Both are members of Opera San José’s resident company and previously shared the role of Scarpia in Tosca. Borsting made his company debut this season as Alexei Vronksy, in Anna Karenina. His recent performances include Sharpless (Madama Butterfly) for Verismo Opera, Marcello (La bohème) for Pacific Repertory Opera, the Marquis (La traviata) for Sacramento Opera, and the 2nd Apprentice (Wozzeck) with Ensemble Parallèle in San Francisco. He has also performed with Berkeley Opera, West Bay Opera, Trinity Lyric Opera, Capitol Opera, Martinez Opera, and San Francisco Opera. Elash appeared last season as Rambaldo in La rondine, Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro, Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola, and Count des Grieux in Manon. Previously, he performed the roles of Zuniga in Carmen, Dr. Dulcamara in The Elixir of Love, and Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin. Mr. Elash was a finalist in the Fourth Annual Irene Dalis Vocal Competition, and was the recipient of the Wagner Society of Northern California Award.

The Barber of Seville

Opera San José presents Rossini’s comic masterpiece

In Italian with English Supertitles

Cast: February 12, 15, 20, 26 February 13, 18, 24, 27
Rosina Betany Coffland• Cathleen Candia
Count Almaviva Michael Dailey• Chester Pidduck†
Figaro Krassen Karagiozov• Adam Meza
Basilio Isaiah Musik-Ayala• Paul Murray
Dr. Bartolo Silas Elash• Torlef Borsting•
Berta Tori Grayum Kindra Scharich
Fiorello Anders Froehlich† Anders Froehlich†

• Resident Company † Company debut

What: Opera San José continues its 27th Anniversary Season with Rossini’s delightful comic opera, The Barber of Seville. The charming tale of a clever young woman, her eager lover, and their resourceful accomplice, Figaro, The Barber of Seville is a tuneful testament to all that’s wonderful about fun and romance. Eight performances are scheduled from February 12 through 27 at the California Theatre, 345 South First Street in downtown San José. Tickets are on sale at the Opera San José Box Office, by phone at (408) 437-4450 or online at www.operasj.org. The Barber of Seville is made possible, in part, by a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José.

Who: Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Libretto: Cesare Sterbini, based on Le Barbier de Séville by Beaumarchais
Conductors: Bryan Nies, Ming Luke (2 performances- February 24 and 27, 2011)
Stage director: José Maria Condemi
Chorus master: David Kurtenbach
Designers: Matthew Antaky (sets); Cathleen Edwards (costumes); Kent Dorsey (lighting); Jeanna Parham (wigs/makeup)

Dates: February 12, 13m, 15, 18, 20m, 24, 26, 27m; 2011

Time: “m” indicates matinee at 3pm; all other performances are at 8pm

Location: California Theatre, 345 South First Street between San Carlos and San Salvador streets, downtown San José

Tickets: $51–$101 (includes city facility usage fee) from Opera San José Box Office, 2149 Paragon Dr., San José, CA 95131; 408-437-4450; 408-437-4455 fax; www.operasj.org
Available 90 minutes prior to curtain at the California Theatre box office only: Seniors (65 and older) 10% discount; Students 25 and younger (with student ID) $11

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