You maybe familiar with ‘The Barber of Seville’ from the Stage Door Cartoon which features Bugs Bunny being chased by Elmer Fudd into the stage door of the Hollywood Bowl. Childhood moments were built around that iconic cartoon with the backdrop of music although unfamiliar at the time added a layer of fun and frivolity.
As adults, we now can have the same chuckles experiencing Rossini’s overture of ‘The Barber of Seville’ in an opera and still swooning along to a love story at the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto.
Here’s the scoop!
Count Almaviva has fallen in love with Rosina, a young girl he saw in Madrid, and has followed her to the house in Seville where she is kept sequestered by her old guardian, Dr. Bartolo, who wishes to marry her and acquire her dowry. Accompanied by his servant Fiorello and some musicians, Almaviva comes in disguise to serenade her, but gets no response. As daylight breaks, the barber Figaro appears and promises to help Almaviva for a suitable reward. Serenading Rosina again, the Count identifies himself as a poor man named “Lindoro” because he wants her to love him for himself, not for his wealth. Figaro comes up with an idea: the Count should force entry into Bartolo’s house on the pretext of being a soldier billeted there. The two happily contemplate their respective rewards.
Meanwhile, Rosina, stirred by this most attractive voice, determines to find its owner. Bartolo enters with the music master Don Basilio, who warns him that Almaviva is his rival for Rosina’s hand. Bartolo decides to marry his ward at once, but Figaro overhears and warns Rosina, promising to carry a letter from her to Lindoro. The suspicious Bartolo tries to get Rosina to admit she has written to her suitor and warns her not to trifle with him. Suddenly Almaviva, disguised as a drunken soldier, bursts in and passes Rosina a note, which she hides. A loud quarrel ensues when Bartolo claims exemption from billeting orders. As a curious crowd forms outside, police try to take the troublemaker into custody, but he confides his identity to the Sergeant, who lets him go amidst pandemonium.
Dr. Bartolo suspects the intruder was a spy sent by Almaviva, who once again appears in disguise, this time as Don Alonso, a music teacher substituting for a sick Basilio. Alonso announces he is staying at the same inn as Almaviva and has found a letter from Rosina. He offers to tell Rosina that Almaviva is cheating on her with another woman. Reassured, Bartolo allows Alonso to give Rosina her singing lesson. Bartolo observes the lesson until Figaro arrives to shave him. With Bartolo unable to decide whom to trust alone, Figaro manages to steal the key to the upstairs balcony and Rosina recognizes Lindoro, who proposes to her. As the shaving is about to begin, Basilio himself appears, and the sham threatens to unravel. Quickly, Almaviva bribes him to play sick and rushes him out of the house. Figaro shaves Bartolo, distracting him while the lovers make their plans to elope, but Bartolo overhears the word “disguise” and sends for Basilio. After everyone has left, the maid Berta wanders in and complains that she is working in a madhouse.
Learning that Alonso is a fraud, the doctor sends Basilio to fetch a notary at once so he can marry his ward that very evening. Calling Rosina, he shows her a note, saying Lindoro has deceived her and plans to win her for his master, Almaviva. Rosina is angry and agrees to marry Bartolo, also revealing that Figaro and Lindoro plan to enter by way of the balcony. Bartolo goes for the police.
Figaro and Almaviva come in through the window, only to be spurned by Rosina, who accuses Lindoro of wooing her for Almaviva. Lindoro reveals his true identity and Rosina is delighted. Figaro urges them to hurry, but as they prepare to escape, they realize Bartolo has thwarted their plan by removing the ladder from the balcony. Basilio enters with the notary, but is dismissed with another bribe from the Count, who joins Rosina in signing the marriage contract. Bartolo surprises them, but is too late to intervene. Rosina is free at last; young love has won the day.
I was looking forward to my second performance at the Canadian Opera Company. The Four Seasons Performing Arts Centre that houses the Canadian Opera Company is on 145 Queen St. W. and is accessible by transit and truly a luxe space. Taking a date or going solo will make for a wonderful afternoon or evening. The Canadian Opera Company building provides a sexy, relaxed and uplifting experience from a busy work week.
The cathedral like ceilings in the lobby of the Canadian Opera Company is laden with glass, soft lights, muted slate floors and warm wood for miles. There was even a speaker like sculpture that greeted me at the entrance. Each floor within the building had an invisible stair case with mini wooden tables added to railings that you can rest your wine glasses onto to take in the ambience of the building.
Upon entering the space, I observed that the patrons were heading to the second floor for an introduction to ‘The Barber of Seville’ from a member of the opera’s creative team.
The 4th floor grand wooden stair case that looks onto University Avenue; allows you to observe what people were purchasing at the individual bars on each level was worth the price of admission. In true Canadian fashion the mood was warm, very welcoming and oh so modern.
Did you know that you don’t have to sit in an opera at COC clueless as to what the talent are singing? A neat technology originally developed by COC is called SURTITLES translates the sung or spoken dialogue performed in the opera projected onto a screen above the stage. Again not only was it helpful but it also allowed me to participate in the performance and most importantly laugh along with ‘The Barber of Seville’.
Using Joan Font’s Director’s notes, ‘Love—here we have a young student who is passionate and crazy for this young girl, and who in fact isn’t really a student but rather a rich Marquis who wants to be loved for his skills and not for his wealth, but who also constantly uses his power to get what he wants, buying his servant, musicians, Figaro, Don Basilio, and the Commander, all of whom allow themselves to be corrupted by the “filthy money.” The power of gold makes the impossible seem possible. However there is another power in this plot: the power of the everyday business and that of the keeper of the keys, the one who can open and close all doors and balconies of this mansion that is, in fact, a cage and prison.’
If you are a first timer to Opera, ‘The Barber of Seville’ is for you. It oozes a sense of comedy that you may assume not to see at the Opera, pop up musicians, comedy in which you will not help to laugh without abandon and scenes that were reminiscent of a John Water film and a Pepto Bismol piano. ‘The idea behind our Barber is timeless; it is not located in a specific space. The action of the opera runs in Seville but it could well happen in the 19th century or in today’s Toronto’, says Font.
‘The Barber of Seville’ ends on May 22, 2015. I encourage you to try and catch this piece before is disappears.
Tickets pricing you ask?
Sixty $12 Standing Room tickets are available at 11 a.m. the morning of each performance, in person only at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office. Limit of two tickets per person. Subject to availability.
Patrons between the ages of 16 and 29 may purchase $22 Opera Under 30 tickets as of September 15, 2012 at 10 a.m., online at coc.ca, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office. Program patrons may opt to pay $35, whereby their tickets are automatically upgraded to the best available the morning of the performance they are attending. Opera Under 30 is presented by TD Bank Group.
Student group tickets are $22 per student and may be purchased by calling 416-306-2356.
Rush seats, starting at $22 and subject to availability, go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office. Limit of two tickets per person.
COC rush tickets go on sale at 11 a.m. on the day of a performance. Tickets can be purchased in person only at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office, 145 Queen St. W., are subject to availability and are limited to two (2) per person. All discounts are at the discretion of the Canadian Opera Company.
Rush ticket availability is only a guide and ticket inventory can fluctuate. All rush ticket sales are final and cannot be refunded, exchanged or replaced.
Under 30? Approximately 150 seats are reserved for Opera for a New Age ticket buyers and student groups for each performance. Tickets cost $22 each.
P.S. Don’t forget to stay until the end for the money that falls from the sky! 😉