Il Barbiere di Siviglia



photos courtesy of IU Opera Theater

IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA by Gioacchino Rossini, based on the play by Beaumarchais
Conductor: Arthur Fagan
Cast: S. Hogsed, N. Fitzer, A. Kloc, T. Florio, C. Medina, C. Peden
Production: C. D. Higgins (scenery & clothes), P. Mero (lighting)

“Nicholas Muni, made his debut as stage director at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music with a super-sized new production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia. As is usual with Muni, he offered a concept loaded with fresh interpretations. Most appreciated was the removal of 150 years of “traditional” encrustations, both musical and staging gimmicks. A turntable supported three spaces — outside Bartolo’s house, inside Bartolo’s house and, surprise, inside Figaro’s establishment. Figaro’s establishment not only purveyed wigs and hair products but was a cozy, bed-dominated hideaway complete with a bevy of beauties. Muni kept the comedy rollicking with a sure hand in one of his best productions. The street outside Bartolo’s was a basic Sevillian alley, but inside a secret laboratory was cleverly concealed in a side wall, emerging when needed to facilitate the action. In this Barbiere, Bartolo was a kind of mad scientist struggling to reconcile scientific discoveries with the tenets of the Church. There were plenty of electricity sight gags, particularly the Act II finale, when Ambrogio got a hold of the electric controller and shocked soldiers and the entire cast into a reeling explosion of choreographed confusion. Contradictions in each character were exploited to great comic effect. For “Don Alonso”s music lesson there was no harpsichord — but the left wall, on its own turntable, swung open to reveal a huge pipe-organ. More elegance followed throughout the evening, with a careful balance between the comic and the serious.
Charles Parsons, Opera News  (December, 2010)

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