Unfortunately, the Seattle Opera's production of Rossini's Barber of Seville closed yesterday so all the wonderful things I want to tell you about it won't do a bit of good about getting you to go see it. But hopefully this will open you up to the possibility of opera or make you look for a production of Barber in another city.
We went on Friday and I have to say it was one of the most pleasant theatre/performance experiences that I have ever had in my life. Barber of Seville is a great starter opera. It is funny, no, it is hysterical, and easy to follow. It's got a great, simple story of boy meets girl but girl is kept away from him by an evil guardian and the barber, Figaro, is the one that helps try and get them together. There are many subtitles, but not as many as you would think; the singers frequently repeat the same thing several times making it easy to watch the action on stage and follow the dialogue.
We saw the "secondary" cast but I still thought they were pretty darn good. If I had known how much I was going to like it, I probably would have gotten tickets to see the "primary" cast as well. Barber of Seville is a unique opera because there are two versions written: one for a soprano to sing the lead and one for a mezzo soprano to sing. (We saw the mezzo.) The McCaw Hall is lovely and the acoustics are fantastic. No microphones are used and you can hear everything clearly. We had dramatic seats in the first row of the second tier and could see into the orchestra pit and see the whole stage easily as well.
Here is the overture, which you will recognize immediately once it gets going.
I wonder what makes opera seem so elitist and inaccessible to some? Maybe because they frequently sing in another language? I love how it sounds and the subtitles are really easy to follow. The tickets aren't cheap, but this is like seeing a blockbuster musical/symphony/play all at once. I rented the little opera glasses and spent a lot of time examining the sets and the costumes.
Also, it is sometimes hard for me to watch the symphony if I am not familiar with the piece, so we downloaded Barber so we could listen to it and get acquainted with the whole piece before we went. I think that helps a lot because anticipation is what makes music so good: at least for me, anyways.
Here is an old Woody Woodpecker and his version of Figaro's introduction. This is pretty fun.
I am very excited now about seeing more opera. I know many are tragedies and maybe not as fun as The Barber of Seville, but we are planning to see The Magic Flute at the Seattle Opera in May. Each production has different singers and I guess people will fly all over the world to see their favorite singers perform. I have fantasies of going to the MET in New York to see something.
If you haven't seen any opera yet, what is stopping you? Thumbs up!