The Dallas Opera Presents THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, Now thru 4/13
The Dallas Opera's 2013-2014 Season Finale is Gioachino Rossini's wildest and most popular romp: THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, opening tonight, March 28, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. in theMargot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, with generous support from TACA.
Disguises and false identities abound as men-young and old-vie for the hand of the beautiful Rosina in one of the funniest and most frenetic operas ever composed! Rossini's delightful 19th century comedy centers on "Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!" a scheming barber and jack-of-all-trades, sung by Dallas Opera favorite Nathan Gunn. Figaro plots with Count Almaviva, who is in love with Rosina, to release Bartolo's ward from her gilded cage so he can marry her.
The Barber of Seville is a work of technical and melodic brilliance created by a composer who was a master at communicating fun in musical terms. The libretto of Barber was based on the 1775 play Le barbier de Séville by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (who also wrote Le mariage de Figaro).
"Working with the Board of Directors and our Senior Staff, I've developed a three-part programming strategy that enables the company to present "evergreen" classics, neglected gems, and important 20th and 21st century works-including new commissions," explains Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny. "The Barber of Seville is one of the greatest comedy classics in the repertoire; a work that tickled Beethoven's musical palate and one that is sure to please even the newest operagoer."
"We're tremendously privileged," Mr. Cerny adds, "to be able to present this delightful opera with a cast that includes some of the finest singing artists onstage today. Even those who know and love The Barber well, will find this a particularly memorable production."
Dallas Opera's superb cast is sure to thrill audiences with their exceptional vocal and acting abilities as they interpret Rossini's witty early-nineteenth century masterpiece. The all-star ensemble also includes acclaimed mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard (with support from The Charron and Peter Denker Rising Stars Endowment Fund) as the gorgeous-yet-spunky Rosina, lyric tenor Alek Shrader as the love-struck Almaviva, and commanding Turkish bass Burak Bilgili as Don Basilio all making their much-anticipated TDO debuts. It also marks the welcome return of the inimitable Donato DiStefano(La Cenerentola), as Rosina's guardian, Dr. Bartolo, a role he has mastered for audiences around the world. DiStefano is a comic genius also known from a previous Dallas Opera production of Barber, as well as several other roles here.
The cast also includes baritone Nathan De'Shon Myers as Fiorello and soprano Jennifer Aylmer in her company debut as Berta.
Maestro Giuliano Carella will conduct in his company debut, with chorus preparation by Dallas Opera Chorus Master Alexander Rom.
Baritone Nathan Gunn has delighted Dallas audiences as Guglielmo, Malatesta, and as The Lodger in The Aspern Papers, as well as introducing Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's song cycle "A Question of Light" in partnership with theDallas Museum of Art. Dallas Morning News Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell, reviewing a recent concert, wrote: "aside from his movie-star looks and wonderfully natural stage presence, he has a rich, creamy voice and unself-conscious expressivity that never flirts with affectation. How many singers can claim all those assets?"
Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times called Mr. Gunn "A born actor (who) sings as if speaking the words."
John W. Freeman of Opera News praised the recent recipient of the prestigious Richard Tucker Award, mezzoIsabel Leonard, for a voice, "secure in coloratura agility, (it) carried its fresh, lucid tone upward on flights into the soprano register, then transitioned smoothly into warmer, more shaded tone in the longer mezzo range, without break or change of character."
Tenor Alek Shrader, making his TDO debut, was earlier teamed with Ms. Leonard in the Metropolitan Opera's 2012 production of The Tempest: "Isabel Leonard sings with lovely fluid sound as Miranda and is well matched by Alek Shrader's sweet, youthful Ferdinand. Their duet, marked by ecstatic high tones and dizzying descents, is a highlight."
Italian Donato DiStefano, one of the most sought-after buffo basses in the world, most recently charmed Dallas audiences in the title role of Don Pasquale, and he rarely fails to steal the show. According to Gregory Sullivan Isaacs ofTheater Jones, "Musically, he was unassailable; as an actor, he was believable and funny" in this critically acclaimed production.
Turkish bass Burak Bilgili earned high marks as Zaccaria in Washington National Opera's Nabucco, prompting The Washington Times to observe: "Mr. Bilgili's voice strongly resembles the profound, dark-hued bass voices with which the Russians seem to be uniquely gifted. And it's this dark but clear and authoritative instrument that allows him to command each scene in which he appears."
Meanwhile, soprano Jennifer Aylmer's "coloratura sounds at first as natural and easy as giggling," but she's not to be underestimated. Sarah Bryan Miller of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote, "She took charge of the stage whenever she occupied it in a first-rate performance."
Nathan De'Shon Myers elicited praise from Scott Cantrell of The Dallas Morning News who wrote that he found Mr. Myers "a feisty stage presence and (a) bright, well-focused baritone."
Fort Worth-native Christian Teague (The Phyllis A. McCasland & Thomas H. McCasland, Jr., Young Artist) makes his TDO mainstage debut as Ambrogio. Bass Brian Post makes his company debut in a principal role as the Sargeant.
THE BARBER OF SEVILLE remains one of opera's best-loved comedies. From the first notes of one of the world's most famous overtures to the final curtain, your heart will be racing-and definitely not for the exit!
BARBER opens on Friday, March 28 (The Amy and Vernon Faulconer Performance) with additional performances on Sunday, March 30(m) and April 2, 5, 11 &13 (The Rosemary and Roger Enrico Foundation Performance), 2014 in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House. All evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. (unless otherwise indicated) and matinees have a 2:00 p.m. curtain time. The Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talk in Hamon Hall is free and begins one hour prior to curtain.
The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera house is located in the heart of the Arts District at 2403 Flora St., Dallas TX 75201.