VA Opera’s ‘Barber of Seville’ empowers female lead in wake of Trump win, opens at Carpenter Theatre this weekend
This weekend, the Virginia Opera will host its production the Barber of Seville at the Carpenter Theatre.
The Barber of Seville was created by Italian writer Gioachino Rossini in 1816. This two-act production is regarded as one of the Top operas in the world and one of the most easily recognized in popular culture. References to this show are so ubiquitous that newcomers who never seen a production will identify some of the elements of the show without even realizing it.
The Virginia Opera hasn’t put on a production of this opera in several years but that doesn’t mean the state’s largest Opera company had to dust off much. This production will feature performances by Will Liverman as the baritone role of Figaro, Mezzo-soprano Megan Marino as Rosina, tenor Andrew Owens as Count Almaviva, Richmond native Matthew Burns as the bass baritone Dr.Bartolo, bass baritone Christopher Job as Don Basilio with music and overture by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
Stage director, Michael Shell said he plans to present the story with a more modern edge to it, to entice a new generation to see the show as well as appeal to the tastes of opera fans.
“Opera has long been associated a certain kind of elitism and popular references to opera tend to be more dramatic and serious, but the idea that opera and comedy don’t go together is very far from the truth,” Shell said. “Comedic operas, including this one, were being written even back in the 1800s. Our tastes have changed, but the slapstick, reality-based, random humor in contemporary comedies are present in this production.”
Having studied the original work, Shell updated the time setting while remaining true to the source material. He cites the work of Pedro Almodovar, the Spanish filmmaker of such films Women of the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and The Skin I Live In, as inspiration for this rendition.
“I adore the films of Pedro Almodovar because he’s so adventurous but also because his colors are so vivid and vibrant. Everything about his films are so embedded in Spain and in Spanish culture which is very important to me,” said Shell. “But what I love about Almodovar is his approach to women and their roles, giving them a strength and complexity that is so wonderful and vivid.”
Almodovar’s work has been critical over the years, gaining international recognition and nomination for his complex characters and realistic narrative. Many of his films center women and their political and sexual freedoms. The women in Almodovar’s films lead to a deeper exploration of Rosina, often portrayed as a subjected object of love, in Shell’s production.
“What is interesting about this particular rendition is that we see Rosina as a fully formed woman with real feelings not just ornamental feelings see from female character in the 19th century,”said Marino. “I’m allowed to go fully into and express what she’s feeling and encouraged by Michael to do so. That’s going from saying ‘Oh isn’t love great’ to more like ‘Oh, isn’t love amazing and powerful and hurtful.’ it’s really refreshing,”
Rosina’s narrative follows her journey of escaping a man who she does not want to be romantically involved with and her having her own agency to choose who loves for herself. The timing of the presidential election coincided with their final dress rehearsal, which according to Marino, gave new meaning to her character’s story
“For the first time, I felt like I understood how Rosina really felt in that moment and how high the stakes are in her situation,” she said. “It’s really important that she gets out and she feels safe. For me, a woman at this time in our country, some of words that my character said, they rang true in a far deeper way than ever before.
Marino said she plans to explore these feelings throughout the run of the show which tours the state as part of the Commonwealth-wide program.
“Many people in the art community are others in some way and it’s up to us to say the hard things and lead by example,” she said. “I feel more responsibility than ever now to play this role.”
The remaining date for the production of Barber of Seville are Friday November 18th and Sunday Nov 20th at the Carpenter Theatre at the Dominion Arts Center in Richmond. The production will break for the holiday and return at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts in Fairfax on December 3 & 4, 2016.
Richmond Ballet introduces “Trio”, an iconic performance of three shows in one night on November 4-6 at the Carpenter Theatre at the Dominion Arts Center. “Trio” will feature The Kingdom of the Shades from Marius Petipa’s classic full length ballet, “La Bayadiere”, George Balanchine’s “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue”, and Ma Cong’s “Lift the Fallen”. This [...]November 3, 2016
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