Filled with iconic and instantly recognizable music, Rossini’s classic The Barber of Seville remains a perennial favorite. In a comedy of outrageous proportions, the barber Figaro must use every trick in the book to confound the lecherous Doctor Bartolo and bring together the charming Rosina and charismatic Count Almaviva. This colorful, rollicking new production by Michael Shell will be conducted by Steven White (Rigoletto, 2014) and will entertain audiences of all ages.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles.
Setting: Seville, The April Fair │Time: B.C. (Before cell phones)
The young Count Almaviva has set his sights on an unknown beauty, but wanting to be loved for himself and not for his money, he has disguised himself as “Lindoro,” a poor student. Figaro, the barber, tells him that his beloved is actually Rosina, ward of the elderly Doctor Bartolo, who keeps her locked in his house and plans to marry her himself — but Figaro promises that they will outwit him.
Rosina is equally determined to thwart her guardian’s intentions. She writes a letter to “Lindoro” and Figaro promises to deliver it. The unscrupulous music master, Basilio, passes along to Doctor Bartolo the rumor that Almaviva is interested in Rosina, so Bartolo decides to thwart him by marrying her immediately. With Figaro’s help, Almaviva, now disguised as a drunken soldier, demands to be billeted at Doctor Bartolo’s house, and they create such a commotion that the neighbors call out the militia.
Almaviva is undiscouraged by the unsuccessful ploy of the morning, and arrives disguised this time as “Don Alonso,” a musician, claiming that Don Basilio is ill and that he is the substitute who will give Rosina her music lesson — under cover of which they make plans to elope that night. Basilio himself arrives unexpectedly, reveals the identity of the “music master,” and stuns Rosina with the news that “Lindoro” is actually an agent for a Count Almaviva, who only wants to marry her for her money. In a rage she agrees to marry Doctor Bartolo, and tells him about the elopement.
A thunderstorm passes; Figaro and Almaviva climb into the house with the help of a ladder and persuade Rosina that “Lindoro” is in fact Count Almaviva himself but, after a rapturous reunion, the lovers find they are unable to escape because Bartolo has taken the ladder. Basilio arrives with the notary who will marry Rosina to Bartolo, but the Count bribes Basilio to witness his own marriage to Rosina instead. Bartolo appears too late; all his precautions have been useless.
Reprinted with permission from Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Steven White, Conductor
Praised by Opera News as a conductor who “squeezes every drop of excitement and pathos from the score,” Steven White is one of North America’s premiere conductors of both operatic and symphonic repertoire. In 2010 he made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting performances of La traviata starring Angela Gheorgiu. Since then he has conducted a number of Metropolitan Opera performances of La traviata, with such stars as Natalie Dessay, Hei-Kyung Hong, Thomas Hampson, Dmitri Hvorostovksy and Matthew Polenzani.
Engagements for the 2015-2016 season include returns to several companies; the Metropolitan Opera to cover conduct in Strauss’ Elektra; Roanoke Symphony for Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Arizona Opera for Don Giovanni, and Opera Omaha for The Barber of Seville.
Maestro White’s 2014-15 season included Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and Das Lied von der Erde at Kennesaw State University. He returned to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera Baltimore for Madama Butterfly, Arizona Opera for Eugene Onegin, and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and Opera Birmingham for La bohème. He debuted with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Opera Columbus with La voix humaine and Pagliacci, and with Opera Omaha he conducted Rigoletto. He returned to the Metropolitan Opera in Spring of 2015 to assist James Levine on Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.
In December 2013 Maestro White conducted the tribute to Martina Arroyo as part of the Kennedy Center Honors concert, broadcast nationally on CBS. Other highlights of this past season include Tosca with Lyric Opera Baltimore and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Dialogues of the Carmelites with Peabody Conservatory, La traviata with Arizona Opera, Rigoletto with Opera Birmingham, Aida at Bob Jones University and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 at Virginia Tech University. At Opera Roanoke he conducted a new production of Die Zauberflöte and covered that same piece at the Metropolitan Opera. He also led the Slovak State Philharmonic of Kosice in concerts of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Festival Overture. With that same orchestra he collaborated with acclaimed trumpeter Paul Neebe in a recording of 20th century concertos.
In 2013 he made his debut with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra in a tour-de-force gala concert with soprano Sarah Coburn. Other recent symphonic engagements include performances of the Strauss Four Last Songs with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and the Naples Philharmonic, internationally televised concerts with Rolando Villazon and the Greek National Radio Symphony Orchestra at the United Nations and Alice Tully Hall, an all-Wagner concert with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and Opera Birmingham, the Festival Finale Concert at Spoleto Festival USA, a concert with Angela Gheorghiu and the Canadian Opera Company orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, and numerous concert performances with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and Opera Roanoke.
In addition to his work with the Metropolitan Opera, Maestro White’s extensive operatic engagements have included La traviata, Don Giovanni, Carmen and La bohème at New York City Opera; Lucia di Lammermoor at L’Opéra de Montréal; Lucia di Lammermoor, La fille du regiment and I puritani with Vancouver Opera; La traviata at Opera Colorado; L’elisir d’amore with Pittsburgh Opera; Die Entführung aus dem Serail at Michigan Opera Theater; La traviata, Roméo et Juliette, I puritani, La sonnambula and L’assedio di Corinto with Baltimore Opera; Lucia di Lammermoor with New Orleans Opera; Aida, Lucia di Lammermoor, The Merry Widow, Tosca and Don Pasquale at Arizona Opera; and La bohème, Carmen, Rigoletto, Tosca and Le nozze di Figaro with the Naples Philharmonic.
Other performances include Hänsel und Gretel at Kentucky Opera, Pagliacci and Tosca at Nashville Opera, Lucia di Lammermoor with Fort Worth Opera, Don Giovanni, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Macbeth and Lucia di Lammermoor at Syracuse Opera, Werther at Sarasota Opera, Lucia di Lammermoor with Wichita Grand Opera, Madama Butterfly with Opera North Carolina, L’elisir d’amore Wolf Trap Opera, outdoor Gala Concerts with Madison Opera, and La traviata at Indiana University Opera Theater.
As former Artistic Director of Opera Roanoke, Maestro White conducted nearly all of that company’s productions from 1999 through 2010, including performances of Das Lied von der Erde, Der fliegende Holländer, Fidelio, Falstaff, Otello, Macbeth, Aida, Hänsel und Gretel and many others. He has also served as Principal Conductor for Opera Birmingham and as Associate Conductor and Chorus Master for Florida Grand Opera.
Among the many orchestras Maestro White has conducted are the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony Orchestra, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, Syracuse Symphony, Charleston Symphony, Florida Philharmonic, Fort Worth Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Madison Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra for a CHANDOS recording of arias featuring his wife, soprano Elizabeth Futral.
In May 2013 Maestro White received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Roanoke College.
Michael Shell, Director
Michael Shell returns to direct The Barber of Seville after directing Fidelio for Opera Omaha last spring. He has a long history with Opera Omaha having made his debut with the company as a singer in the role of the Bosin in H.M.S. Pinafore in 2003. He then directed Opera Omaha’s production of All the King’s Men and The Tragedy of Carmen in 2008.
Mr. Shell has gone on to direct for Atlanta Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Virginia Opera, Piedmont Opera, Opera Tampa, Indiana University, Webster University, North Carolina Opera, The A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
He made his international directing debut at the Wexford Festival Opera in 2010 with a production of Winners, by American composer Richard Wargo and returned the next fall to direct Double Trouble – Trouble in Tahiti & The Telephone. He has written and directed three cabarets, including All About Love and The Glamorous Life - A group therapy session for Opera Singers, both for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Mr. Shell has been a guest faculty member at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Florida State University and Webster University St. Louis teaching Opera Workshop and directing Undergraduate Opera Workshop performances. He was the 2009 honoree of the OTSL Charles MacKay Career Development Fund and recently won the Best Director/Best Opera Wilde Award in Michigan for Giulio Cesare at Michigan Opera Theater. Most recently he returned to Santa Fe Opera to direct the Apprentice Showcase Scenes, a new production of The Barber of Seville at Opera Philadelphia, and a new production of L’italiana in Algieri with Opera San José, and Madama Butterfly with Opera Tampa.
Upcoming engagements include Così fan tutte at Indian Univeristy, a new production of A Little Night Music for Piedmont Opera, Don Giovanni at Florida Opera Festival and in 2017 a new production of Silent Night for Opera San José.
Shoko Kambara, Scenic Designer*
Making her Opera Omaha debut this season, Shoko Kambara has been designing and assistant designing in New York since receiving her MFA in Scenic Design at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She recently created this production of The Barber of Seville for Opera Philadelphia and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Don Pasquale for the Juilliard School, 7th Monarch for New York City’s Acorn Theater, Turn of the Screw and Bombitty of Errors for Syracuse Stage, 1-888 Dial India for various theaters in Mumbai, India, and Shining City for Nevada Conservatory Theatre. Associate designer credits include Macbeth, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Man and Boy, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Million Dollar Quartet, The Miracle Worker, Ragtime, and 33 Variations. Ms. Kambara’s upcoming engagements include the world premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s The Prince of Players with Houston Grand Opera and Disney’s The Little Mermaid with Arkansas Repertory Theatre.
Amanda Seymour, Costume Designer*
Amanda Seymour makes her Opera Omaha debut in this production of The Barber of Seville directed by Michael Shell, originally designed for Opera Philadelphia and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Other recent credits include Le Pauvre Matelot and Les Mamelles de Tirésias directed by Matthew Ozawa for Wolf Trap Opera, Rusalka directed by James Robinson for San Antonio Opera, Paul’s Case directed by Kevin Newbury for UrbanArias in Arlington, Virginia, and Don Pasquale directed by James Robinson and Armide directed by Fabrizio Melano for The Juilliard School. Her theatre credits include Macbeth for The Public Theater’s Mobile Shakespeare Unit; Oliver! at The Paper Mill Playhouse; Exile and The Lawnpeople at Cherry Lane Theatre; and Lydia at Yale Repertory Theatre. Associate designer credits include The Bartered Bride at The Juilliard School, the first national tour of Evita, as well as Chaplin: The Musical on Broadway, and The Cripple of Inishmaan on Broadway.
Driscoll Otto, Lighting Designer*
Making his Opera Omaha debut this fall, Driscoll Otto has designed lighting for Opera Philadelphia (The Barber of Seville), Virginia Opera (The Magic Flute), North Carolina Opera (Così fan tutte), University of Oklahoma (Falstaff) and Utah Festival Opera (Show Boat). He has also designed projections for the Metropolitan Opera (La Donna del Lago) and Gotham Chamber Opera (Baden Baden 1927). His theatre lighting and projection credits includes productions at Dallas Theatre Center, Trinity Repertory Theatre, Houston Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Dallas, the Huntington Theater Company, The Little Shubert, Slant Theatre Project, and Two Rivers Theatre Co. Other notable projects include the lighting design for Legally Blonde and Rock of Ages for the Norwegian Cruise Lines, and projection design for Next to Normal at the Baltimore Center Stage. Upcoming opera projects include lighting designs for La Bohème at Virginia Opera and projection designs for the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus at Dallas Opera.
John Moore, Figaro*
A recent graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program, John Moore is garnering praise for his energetic performances and burnished baritone in both operatic and concert repertoire. In 2007, he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera singing Fiorello in The Barber of Seville. Mr. Moore made his international debut at Welsh National Operain 2008 singing Figaro in WNO’s acclaimed English The Barber of Seville.
The upcoming 2015-2016 season sees several significant company debuts for the baritone including: Seattle Opera, as Count Almavivia in Le nozze di Figaro; the Bayerische Staatsoper, as Adario in Les indes galantes; Florida Grand Opera, as Tadeusz in The Passenger; Portland Opera, as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and Opera Omaha, as Figaro in The Barber of Seville. On the concert stage, he appears at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of NY, under the direction of Kent Tritle, and also the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. Future seasons include a debut with Opera Philadelphia, and as well as returns to the Metropolitan Opera
The 2014-2015 season saw Mr. Moore return to the Metropolitan Opera stage as Moralès in Carmen, as well as Nachtigal in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and he appeared with their annual Opera in the Parks summer concert series. Additionally, he debuted at the Atlanta Opera as the Conte Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro and covered the role of Tadeusz in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of The Passenger.
During the 2013-2014 season, Mr. Moore appeared as Papageno in The Magic Flute and as Fléville in Andrea Chénier with the Metropolitan Opera, Donald in Billy Budd with Glyndebourne at BAM, and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte at Hyogo Performing Arts Center, Japan. He also toured Russia with members of the Metropolitan Opera.
In the 2012-2013 season, the baritone returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Curio in Giulio Cesare and Simonetto in Francesca di Rimini, and also returned to the role of Donald in Billy Budd with the Glyndebourne Festival Opera.
Mr. Moore’s 2011-12 season featured a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Yamadori inMadama Butterfly, and Donald in Billy Budd. He was the baritone soloist in the American premiere of Juraj Filas’s Oratorio Spei with Sacred Music in a Sacred Space at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola under the baton of Kent Tritle. In addition to his recital with Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Mr. Moore also gave recitals at his alma mater, Simpson College, and at People’s Symphony Concerts in NY. In the summer, he returned to the Des Moines Metro Opera in a role debut as the titular character in Tchaikovksy’s Eugene Onegin. Mr. Moore concluded the season as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Glyndebourne Opera’s touring ensemble in the United Kingdom.
In the 2010-2011 season, Mr. Moore appeared as Papageno in the Metropolitan Opera’s English production of The Magic Flute, toured with Musicians from Marlboro, performed in recital with the Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music, and returned to the Des Moines Metro Opera as Dr. Malatesta in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. In addition, Mr. Moore took part in a studio recording of Peter Lieberson’s The Coming of Light with CCM.
During the 2009-10 season John premiered Lieberson’s The Coming of Light with Chicago Chamber Musicians, sang Abbé Lorenzo in a new production of Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming at Minnesota Opera, sang Fiorello at the Met, appeared in concert at the Lakes Art Center in Okoboji, Iowa and for the Des Moines Opera Guild, and made his debut at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in England singing Donald in Britten’s Billy Budd.
Sandra Piques Eddy, Rosina
American mezzo-soprano Sandra Piques Eddy begins the 2015-16 Season as Rosina in The Barber of Seville with Opera Omaha; she continues to Boston Lyric Opera in her role debut as Charlotte in Werther, and returns to Atlanta Opera as Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette. Future engagements include additional appearances at the Metropolitan Opera.
In the 2014-15 Season, Ms. Eddy was marked by the great success of her debut in the title role of L’incoronazione di Poppea at Opera North (UK); she traveled to Boston Lyric Opera to appear as Varvara (Kátya Kabanová); travelled to Portland Opera to sing the title role of Carmen, and made her season debut with Opera Saratoga as Angelina in La Cenerentola. She also joined the New York Philharmonic Ensembles for Respighi’s Il tramonto.
Other recent highlights include her return to the Metropolitan Opera in the American premier of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys as Fiona, directed by Barlett Sher, her debut at Opera Colorado as Carmen (a role with which she made her European debut in a new Tim Albery production at Opera North (UK) and in an earlier season at Lyric Opera of Kansas); and with Nashville Opera as Rosina, a role she previously sang at Lyric Opera of Kansas City and at Vancouver Opera. In summer of 2014, she travelled to Japan to sing Dorabella (Così fan tutte) at Hyogo Performing Arts Center.
Ms. Eddy graudated from Boston University with a master’s degree in Vocal Performance, and was an apprentice artist at the Boston Opera Institute, where Boston audiences heard her in various roles including her signature Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro) in a production by Thomas Allen, Nancy (Albert Herring), Tieresias in the staged premier of Merryman’s Antigone, and most memorably, Sesto La Clemenza di Tito). She made her professional debut with Boston Baroque in Vivaldi’s Gloria, and further invitations have included Messagiera/Speranza (L’Orfeo), and Valletto/Amore (L’incoronazione di Poppea). Boston Lyric Opera roles include Dorabella (also at Pittsburgh Opera) and Idamante (Idomeneo). She sang the role of Dinah (Trouble in Tahiti) with Boston Midsummer Opera.
Ms. Eddy was the New England Regional Winner of the 2000 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a National Semi-finalist, leading to her Met debut in 2001 with further appearances as Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), Lola (Cavalleria Rusticana), Zulma (L’italiana in Algeri), Rosette (Manon), Olga (The Merry Widow), Countess Ceprano (Rigoletto), The Dragonfly (L’Enfant et les sortilèges), Flower Maiden (Parsifal), and Mercédès (Carmen) in a new production by Richard Eyre that was broadcast nationally on PBS and cinecast to theatres worldwide. Other New York appearances include at Glimmerglass Festival Opera the roles of Romeo (I Capuleti ed i Montecchi) and Meg in Little Women (also at Fort Worth Opera and Kentucky Opera); her Avery Fisher Hall debut in The Messiah with the National Chorale; at New York City Opera as Charmian (Antony and Cleopatra), Dorabella (Così fan tutte), and Don Ramiro (La finta giardiniera), which she also sang at Florida Grand Opera.
Highly adept in Rossini/Mozart repertoire, Ms. Eddy appeared as Cherubino at Canadian Opera Company, Los Angeles Opera, Atlanta Opera and at Austin Lyric Opera; Zerlina (Don Giovanni) at Portland Opera and Opera Omaha, as Idamante (Idomeneo) and Juno/Ino (Semele) at Florentine Opera, title role of La Cenerentola at Austin Lyric Opera and at Spoleto Festival (USA); at Atlanta Opera, Arizona Opera and Austin Lyric Opera as Isabella (L’italiana in Algeri); Rosina (The Barber of Seville) at Austin Lyric Opera, and as Stépahno (Roméo et Juliette) with Hawaii Opera Theatre.
Further roles in Ms. Eddy’s repertoire include Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel) at Portland Opera; the title role of Peter Brooks’s La Tragédie de Carmen and the title role of Béatrice et Bénédict with Chicago Opera Theater.
Major symphonic engagements include Beethoven’s Mass in C; Mozart’s Mass in C Major and Mass in C Minor; Bach’s Magnificat and Mass in B Minor; Mahler’s Rückert Lieder and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen among other works. She has shared the stage with such eminent conductors as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Laurence Cummings, Julius Rudel, Jane Glover, Marco Armiliato, James Levine and Valery Gergiev.
Andrew Bidlack, Count Almaviva
Tenor Andrew Bidlack begins the 2015-16 Season with his return to Opera Omaha, where he sings Count Almaviva The Barber of Seville, a role in which he previously appeared at Florida Grand Opera. He then travels to Arizona Opera to join their production of Florencia en el Amazonas as Arcadio. After Christmas, he makes his debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Beppe in I Pagliacci, where he also sings the role of the Lamplighter in Manon Lescaut while covering Edmondo. In spring 2016, Mr. Bidlack travels to the UK to create the principal role of Private John Ball in In Parenthesis, Welsh National Opera’s new commission by composer Iain Bell, a production which includes a residency at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Mr. Bidlack is a frequent interpreter of contemporary music; last season saw him create both the roles of Irving Tashman in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star at Cincinnati Opera and the principal tenor role of Rob Hall in Joby Talbot’s Everest at Dallas Opera. He also sang Ishmael in the workshop production of Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick at San Francisco Opera while he was an Adler Fellow, and later workshopped the role of Tancredi in John Musto’s new opera The Inspector at Wolf Trap. As a Merola Opera Program participant, he created the role of Charles Carter in the world premiere of Thomas Pasatieri’s The Hotel Casablanca. He appeared at Carnegie Hall for his debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago as The Young Collector in their production of A Streetcar Named Desire with Renée Fleming, a role he also sang in Chicago, and in the role of Sandy in The Lighthouse at Dallas Opera for the inception of their Chamber Opera Series.
A graduate of San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Adler Fellowship, Mr. Bidlack made his house debut there in The Little Prince and went on to appear as Odoardo (Ariodante), Arturo (Lucia di Lammermoor), Count Albert (Die tote Stadt), Simpleton (Boris Godunov), Pedrillo (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Gastone (La traviata), and Ruiz (Il trovatore).
Recent successes include Tonio (La Fille du Régiment) at Palm Beach Opera, a role he previously sang for PORTopera, Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi) with Intermountain Opera Bozeman and Almerich (Iolanta) with an international cast of renown at Dallas Opera, where he also appeared as Count Albert. He sang Don Ramiro (La Cenerentola) at both Opera Omaha and Intermountain Opera and covered the role for San Francisco Opera. His performances as Prince Karl Franz (Student Prince) and Anatol (Vanessa) at Utah Festival Opera were met with great enthusiasm.
Other career highlights include his New York City Opera debut as Baron Lummer (Intermezzo), Nemorino (L’Elisir d’Amore) at Empire State Lyric Theater, Tamino (Die Zauberflöte) and Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) at Florida Grand Opera, and Rodrigo in Rossini’s Otello at Opera Southwest.
International engagements include his South American debut as Oronte (Alcina) at Teatro Municipal de Santiago in Chile, Damon (Acis and Galatea) at the Macau International Music Festival, and his appearance as A Guest (The Saint of Bleecker Street) at the Spoleto Festival in Italy, which was recorded and released under the Chandos label.
Other roles include Rodolfo (La bohème), the title role Candide, Snout (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Ferrando (Così fan tutte), Bastien (Bastien et Bastienne), Emilio (Partenope) and Tom Rakewell (The Rake’s Progress).
Concert performances include the tenor solos in Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Haydn’s Creation and Mozart’s Requiem; his Carnegie Hall debut singing the solos in Bach’s Weihnachts-Oratorium and the tenor soloist in Carmina Burana with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Andreas Delfs. His recital appearance alongside soprano Ava Pine at the Dallas Museum of Art was well-received by public and critics alike.
Matthew Burns, Doctor Bartolo
Declared as “having a beautiful bass-baritone voice” by The New York Times, Matthew Burns is a dynamic performer known for his unique portrayals of opera’s most acclaimed bass-baritone roles spanning the repertoire from dramatic roles to buffo roles, and everything in between. This season, Mr. Burns will perform the role of Papageno in Die Zauberflöte at Opera Coeur d’Alene, Bartolo in The Barber of Seville at Opera Omaha, George in Of Mice and Men at Austin Lyric Opera, Leporello in Don Giovanni with Arizona Opera, and Don Geronio in Il turco in Italia at Opera Southwest. In concert, he’ll sing the baritone solo in Handel’s Messiah with Seattle Symphony.
Recently, Mr. Burns made his Austin Lyric Opera debut in the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni, which he also sang at Opera Memphis. He also appeared as Sir John Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor at Fargo Moorehead Opera; performed in Wuthering Heights at Florentine Opera; sang Rambaldo in La rondine at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; Bartolo in The Barber of Seville with the Orlando Philharmonic, and Basilio in the same opera with Sarasota Opera; Alidoro in La Cenerentola with Palm Beach Opera; the title role in Le Nozze di Figaro with Virginia Opera; Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Dayton Opera; his role début as Sparafucile in Rigoletto with the Crested Butte Music Festival; and Otec in Smetana’s The Kiss with Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
Career highlights include Paolo in Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten with Los Angeles Opera; Basilio in The Barber of Seville with Florida Grand Opera; Leporello in Don Giovanni with Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Cleveland, and Opera Omaha; Pish-Tush in The Mikado, Lord Gualtiero Valton in I puritani, and Titta in Martín y Soler’s Una cosa rara with Opera Theatre St. Louis; a number of leading roles with Wolf Trap Opera including the title role in Mozart’s Impresario, Bartolo in The Barber of Seville, and Teucer in Rameau’s Dardanus. Matthew has also performed two seasons at the Bard SummerScape Festival portraying several roles in Shostakovich’s The Nose, the Innkeeper and Policeman in Schreker’s Die Ferne Klang, Vaarlam in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov; as well as roles in Offenbach’s Ba-ta-clan and L’île de Tulipatan.
Other operatic engagements include The Poet in Glass’ Orphée and Pallante in Agrippina for Virginia Opera; George in Of Mice and Men with Utah Opera; Colline in La bohème with Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Birmingham; Angelotti in Tosca at Palm Beach Opera; Schaunard in La bohème with New Orleans Opera; the title role in Don Giovanni with Arizona Opera; Collatinus in The Rape of Lucretia with Toledo Opera; Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance with Kentucky Opera; the title role in Le nozze di Figaro at Opera Grand Rapids; the title role in Gianni Schicchi and Taddeo in L’italiana in Algeri with Opera Southwest; and Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville with Dayton Opera.
He made his debut with New York City Opera at Lincoln Center as Masetto in Don Giovanni, and subsequently returned to the company as Agrippa in Antony and Cleopatra, Notary in Intermezzo, Colline in La bohème, Zuniga in Carmen, Angelotti in Tosca, Major Murgatroyd in Patience, Junius in The Rape of Lucretia, Marquis in La traviata, and The Guard in Dead Man Walking. In addition, as a member of the Juilliard Opera Center he performed Blitch in Floyd’s Susannah, La Voce Nettuno in Idomeneo, and created the villainous role of William de Champeaux in Stephen Paulus’ Heloise and Abelard.
A sought-after concert artist, highlights of Burns’ orchestral engagements include his Carnegie Hall debut singing Händel’s Messiah; his Avery Fisher Hall debut singing the Zeremonienmeister in Hindemith’s Das Nusch-Nuschi; Rabbi Eleazer in Dessau’s Haggadah shel Pescah with the American Symphony Orchestra; Mozart’s Coronation Mass with the Atlanta Symphony; Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Mobile Symphony and Albany Symphony Orchestra; Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the New Choral Society; the world première of John Eaton’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at Symphony Space; an evening of Mozart opera excerpts with the Albany Symphony Orchestra; a recital with the Art Song Festival of Williamsburg; Grandpa Moss in The Tender Land with the Charleston Symphony; Messiah with the Pacific Symphony, Rochester Chamber Orchestra, Princeton Pro Musica, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Richmond Symphony, and Highland Park Orchestra; Bach’s B Minor Mass with the Pensacola Choral Society; Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis with New York’s New Choral Society; and Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Dayton Philharmonic. Last season, he sang the baritone solo in Händel’s Messiah with Rhode Island Philharmonic and appear in American Opera Projects’ Composers & The Voice series.
Mr. Burns also made concert appearances in Asia including Kuno in Der Freischutz with Macau International Music Festival and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. Other concert repertoire includes Beethoven’s Mass in C, Händel’s Judas Maccabeus, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, and the Requiem Masses of Verdi and Mozart. He performed in recital for Texas’ Omega House AIDS Hospice and has been featured on several concerts benefiting charities throughout New York City with Sing for Hope.
Mr. Burns is a two-time recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant for Singers, once while studying at the Juilliard Opera Center, then again from New York City Opera, presented to an artist whose performance demonstrates great promise in the opera world. Matthew is also featured on the commercial recordings of Die Gezeichneten from Los Angeles Opera as well as the American Symphony Orchestra’s Haggadah shel pessach.
Peter Volpe, Basilio*
Katrina Thurman, Berta*
Hailed by Gramophone for her “remarkably vibrant and flexible voice” and Opera News for her “wonderfully clear, pointed sound and the natural warmth she brings to her character”, soprano Katrina Thurman is one of the most promising talents of her generation, captivating audiences and critics alike with her distinctively beautiful voice, powerful stage presence, sensitive artistry, and physical beauty. Engagements for 2014-2015 included her debut with Opera Philadelphia as Berta in The Barber of Seville, a return to Syracuse Opera as Adele in Die Fledermaus, presenting a master class and recital as a guest artist with Reinhardt University, and performing in Indianapolis Opera’s first annual Crescendo Concert. The 2015-2016 season will see her return to Opera Omaha as Berta in director Michael Shell’s sparkling The Barber of Seville and a return to Opera Philadelphia as Gianetta in L’elisir d’amore.
The 2013-2014 season included Ms. Thurman’s debut with Florentine Opera as Musetta in La bohème, her role debut as Marzelline in Beethoven’s Fidelio with the Shippensburg Music Festival, and a concert appearance with Syracuse Opera. In 2012-2013, she debuted the role of Isabella Beecher in Mrs. President with Anchorage Opera, sang Rosabella in The Most Happy Fella with Tulsa Opera, joined the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for 'S Wonderful! 'S Marvelous! Gershwin!, returned to Oper Bonn in Germany to reprise the role of Mrs. Naidoo in Philip Glass's Satyagraha, and headlined in a one woman cabaret at the University Club of New York. Her 2011-2012 season included Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow with Shreveport Opera, Gilda in Rigoletto with Sacramento Opera, Maria in The Sound of Music with Anchorage Opera, the cover of Eurydice in Telemann's Orpheus with New York City Opera, Sophie De Palma in Terrence McNally’s Master Class with Alpine Theater Project, and Isabella Beecher in Victoria Bond’s Mrs. President at Symphony Space in New York in conjunction with Anchorage Opera.
Additional performance highlights include Ms. Thurman’s French opera debut as Najade in Ariadne auf Naxos with Opéra de Lyon, her critically acclaimed German debut with Oper Bonn in the roles of Alyeya in Janáček’s From the House of the Dead, Vénus in Rameau's Dardanus, and Mrs. Naidoo in Philip Glass’ Satyagraha, Adina in L’elisir d’amore with Lyrique en Mer and Sacramento Opera, Musetta in La bohème with Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Piedmont Opera, Martha in the world premiere and recording on the Naxos label of Louis Karchin’s Romulus with American Opera Projects, Amy in Mark Adamo’s Little Women and Yum-Yum in The Mikado with Syracuse Opera, Ellen in Lakmé and Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro with Florida Grand Opera, Die Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte with Tulsa Opera, Belinda in Dido & Aeneas with The Yard in Martha’s Vineyard, Liz in the New York City workshop staging of Conrad Cummings’ new opera The Golden Gate, and principal soloist in the European premiere of The Opera Show, which toured Spain, Italy, and England.
An accomplished recitalist and concert artist, Ms. Thurman has been a featured soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Utah Symphony, the Omaha Symphony and the Danbury Symphony Orchestra, and made her New York City recital debut at Trinity Church in the Noonday Concert Series. Ms. Thurman is an alumna of the Young American Artists Program at Glimmerglass Opera, where she performed Diana in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, Ninfa in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, covered the role of Bianca/Lois Lane in Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate and performed as a soloist in We Open in Paris, a concert with celebrated pianist Steven Blier and the Aspen Opera Theater Center, where she performed Sister Suzanna in the world premiere of Bernard Rands’ Belladonna. She was the Silver Medalist at the American Traditions Competition, First Place & Audience Choice Award winner in the Classical Singer Competition and has received awards and honors from the Jensen Foundation, the National Opera Association, the Connecticut Opera Guild, the William C. Byrd Foundation, the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust, and the Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges.
Adam Cannedy, Fiorello / Sergeant
Hailed for his “sonorous and secure voice” (Opera Today), baritone Adam Cannedy is quickly making his way on opera stages across the country. Career highlights include a guest appearance with Tanglewood Music Center’s Contemporary Music Festival appearing as Rooster Wild Thing in Oliver Knussen’s Where The Wild Things Are, a role he would reprise in 2011 in his Lincoln Center debut with New York City Opera. Most recently, he appeared as Marullo in both Opera Omaha and The Atlanta Opera's co-production of Verdi’s Rigoletto, as well as Masetto in First Coast Opera's Don Giovanni. The 2015-2016 Season will see Mr. Cannedy return to Opera Omaha as Fiorello in Rossini's The Barber of Seville and as Handsome in Puccini's La Fanciulla del West. In April 2016, Mr. Cannedy will make his role debut as LeBlanc in the revival of Goodwin and Rice's American opera EVANGELINE with Longfellow Chorus in Portland, Maine, and he will join the faculty of Chamber Music Campania as resident teaching and performing artist for the Lucera Vocal Institute in Lucera, Italy.
In 2013, Mr. Cannedy made his Opera Omaha debut appearing as Moralès in Bizet’s Carmen, and he completed the season as an emerging artist with Virginia Opera. Prior season highlights include debuts with The Atlanta Opera and Lyric Opera of Virginia in 2012, appearing in the role of Le Dancaïre in Carmen for both companies. As an emerging artist, Mr. Cannedy has completed seasons with companies including Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Central City Opera, Opera North, and Lyric Opera of Virginia. He was a 2011 prizewinner at The Birmingham Opera Competition, a finalist in The Dallas Opera Guild Competition, and most recently won the People’s Choice Award at The American Traditions Competition in Savannah, Georgia.
In 2010, Mr. Cannedy made his European debut at Wexford Festival Opera in Wexford Ireland, appearing as The Ballad Singer in Richard Wargo’s Winners and as an Oompa Loompa in Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket; both productions were European premieres. A champion of modern music, Mr. Cannedy has collaborated with and performed for living composers including Carlisle Floyd, William Bolcom, Stephen Paulus, Richard Wargo, Simon Sargon, Peter Ash (both the world and European premieres of The Golden Ticket), Oliver Knussen, Ned Rorem, and Philip Glass. Additional performance credits include Così fan tutte (Guglielmo and Don Alfonso), A Little Night Music (Count Carl Magnus), Roméo et Juliette (Lord Capulet), the staged premiere of Bolcom’s Lucrezia (Chucho), Carmen (Escamillo), Stephen Paulus’s The Postman Always Rings Twice (Frank Chambers), Susannah (Olin Blitch), the world premiere of Simon Sargon’s The Singing Violin (Baron Frederick), Oklahoma! (Will Parker), The Music Man (Oliver Hix), Camelot (Lancelot), and Sweeney Todd (Anthony).
Ron Chvala, Ambrogio
Actor Ron Chvala made his Opera Omaha debut as Lillas Pastia in the 2013 production of Carmen. He recently appeared as Charles Webb (Our Town) at the Blue Barn Theatre. Other theater credits include Colonel Jessep (A Few Good Men) and Bob Cratchit (A Christmas Carol) at the Omaha Community Playhouse, and 13 different characters in Leaving Iowa at The Bellevue Little Theatre. Recent movie credits include Charon (The Experiment) for Sony Pictures, Officer Carter (Ulterior Motives), and the Prophet (April Showers). A native of Nebraska, Mr. Chvala served in the U.S. Marine Corps and has a B.A. from Columbia College in Los Angeles in Film. He has produced, directed, shot, and edited documentaries and informational programs around the world, including Africa, South America and the Fiji Islands. Mr. Chvala is a resident of Omaha, Nebraska.
Technical Director: Katherine Pursell
Asst. Director: Dustin Cañez
Stage Manager: Kathleen Stakenas*
Asst. Stage Manager: Emily Duffin
Asst. Stage Manager: Anna Reetz
Asst. Lighting Designer: Bailey Costa
Makeup & Hair Design: Ronell Oliveri
Wig & Makeup Assistant: Sarah Opstad
Wardrobe Coordinator: Cheri Sanwick
Properties Master: Ronnie Wells
Supertitles: Kelley Rourke
Supertitles Operator: Scott Arens
Production Assistant: Taylor Jackson
Lighting Intern: Sheric Hull
Master Electrician: Collie MacCardell
Master Carpenter: Al Dusek
Harpsichord Tuners: Dana Sloan, Dwight Thomas
Principal Accompanist / Continuo: Eric Andries
A CLOSER LOOK
Che invenzione prelibata!
By Conductor, Steven White
“What delicious invention!” Figaro’s own words could not more aptly describe the miracle that is Il barbiere di Siviglia. It took Rossini all of thirteen days to create what has for nearly two hundred years been considered the apotheosis of opera buffa. It’s a masterpiece that sparkles with a profusion of musical detail and stylistic specificity that belies the alacrity with which it was composed.
By the time twenty-three-year-old Rossini signed the contract to write Il barbiere for Rome’s Teatro di Torre Argentino, he had already produced fifteen operas in a mere five years. He knew a good tune when he had composed it, and he was not averse to reusing his own music to facilitate the breathtaking speed that fostered spontaneity in his creative process. Most accomplished composers do this to a greater or lesser degree—it is an attribute of genius. Gustav Mahler said that composing is like “playing with bricks, continually making new buildings from the same old stones." But when Rossini went to the storehouse of his own quarry, he often took materials that, in their original manifestation, had entirely different dramatic and emotional purposes. The overture to Il barbiere is an example of this. It was first composed for Aureliano in Palmira, an opera seria. Shortly thereafter he used it for Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra, a historical drama. Yet as the overture to Il barbiere, it establishes with utter serendipity the precise temperament of the pulsating comedy that follows.
Numerous examples of this phenomenon can be found throughout the opera. One of the more striking instances occurs with Rosina’s famous aria, “Una voce poco fa.” The second half of the piece was originally used in the same two operas in which the overture made its first appearance. Yet the specificity with which Rossini portrays Rosina’s character seems wholly original and custom-made. Indeed, even from the first bars of the introduction, the entire aria is a musical marvel in its representation of the potential of her character’s dual demeanors. Earliest audiences were somewhat taken aback by the intensity of Rossini’s heroine, accustomed as they were to a more sedately demure portrayal in Paisiello’s popular 1792 opera on the same subject.
Il barbiere boasts a libretto by Cesare Sterbini that perfectly acclimates to Rossini’s musical style. The result is a triumph of vocal writing that glitters with wit and irresistible élan. Rossini knew the technical and expressive capabilities of the voice more instinctively than any one who ever lived. Bartolo’s breathless pattering, Almaviva’s ardent melismas, Basilio’s pompous pontifications and, above all, Figaro’s buoyant bravura—all are the result of an idiomatic proficiency that is part of Rossini’s personal nature itself. The unity of speech and music is never for a moment compromised by even a hint of artifice. The composer has honed every convention of form and style into flexible vehicles that convey the lyric drama with light-winged efficiency.
In symbiotic support of the stage is Rossini’s iridescent orchestra—a chamber orchestra, really, enlisting even fewer instruments than Mozart does in his mature operas. On a number of occasions Rossini deploys two piccolos at once, an imaginative and unusual choice that heightens the hurly-burly of the dramatic moment. All of the wind instruments have a number of expressive solos that sometimes serve as duet partners to the vocal line and at other times represent counter-motives in virtually symphonic ensembles.
The verve and vitality of the string writing is irrepressible. With both razor-sharp articulation and with comely lines of nuanced elegance, Rossini’s strings make constant insightful commentary on the events unfolding onstage. While it is well documented that Bellini, Donizetti and even Verdi were extraordinarily indebted to Rossini in areas that emphasize vocal writing and formal structure, not enough attention is given to the influence that Rossini’s string writing wielded on those later generations. Rossini himself was indebted to Mozart, of course. Indeed, when asked once which of his own operas he most loved, he answered “Don Giovanni!” His absorption of so very much of Mozart’s style and technique—in his string writing as much as anywhere else—led many to call him “the Italian Mozart.”
Rossini died in 1868—several years after Wagner finished composing Tristan und Isolde, the catalyst that precipitated a wholesale reappraisal of western harmonic theory. He had composed Il barbiere in 1816, nearly half a century earlier and eight full years before Beethoven finished his ninth symphony. At the time of his death the artistic atmosphere of the musical world could not have been more different than when he was wielding his creative genius at the beginning of the “Romantic Century.” Yet the decades of operatic development after his astonishingly early retirement in 1829 would have been unthinkable without the spirit and standard that he bequeathed though his masterpieces to succeeding generations. Il barbiere stands at the very forefront of his gifts to mankind. In 1898, at age eighty-five, Giuseppe Verdi spoke for all lovers of opera: “I cannot help believing that, for its abundance of ideas, comic verve and truth of declamation, Il barbiere di Siviglia is the most beautiful opera buffa in existence.”
By Director, Michael Shell
The Barber of Seville is a love story. It is a story of two people — Rosina and Almaviva, a Count in disguise — overcoming obstacles to be together. And with the help of an ingenious barber, they outwit Bartolo, Rosina’s guardian, and are united. The story is funny, passionate, and quite frankly, totally absurd. Rossini was a master at this type of storytelling. His music, always fresh and vibrant, makes all of these elements come alive and the absurd plausible.
For this production, I wanted to create an environment that not only allowed for Rossini’s brilliant blending of reality and borderline farce, but one that was also grounded firmly in Spain. For inspiration, my design team and I turned to the films of Pedro Almodóvar, which have all of the elements of a Rossini opera. Almodóvar is brilliant at walking the line between dramatic comedy and melodramatic absurdity. His films, rich with a vintage feel, are also deeply embedded in Spain and Spanish culture. But his films also embrace the surreal and random. Sometimes these notions are very theatrical and sometimes they are just depicting the randomness of life.
Part of the fun of Rossini’s music is that random interruption. At times, the action stops completely just so characters can sing about how crazy the situation is. At others, in the middle of an urgent getaway, for example, someone stops to sing at length about how urgent it is to leave right now — so long that he can’t escape in time. I wanted this production to embrace the random at a level that keeps the surprises fresh and is always entertaining.
We also bring Almodóvar’s sensibility towards his characters in terms of gender and sexuality. Rosina, the opera’s heroine, is usually depicted as an innocent, without sexual desire. This production gives her a little more teeth. Here, she is an assistant to Dr. Bartolo (an optometrist) looking for a life beyond the office walls (think of Almodóvar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown). She has desires, and it seems like this young man serenading her at the start of the opera might be able to fulfill them. She and that young man, Count Almaviva, never formally meet before falling in love. They rarely even speak to each other. It’s a physical spark between them. She has passionate feelings for the guy. If there was no desire for them to get together, than it would not work out. And we want it to work out!
To further root the production in Spain, we set it during the time of the Feria de Abril de Sevilla (“Seville April Fair”), which began as a livestock fair in the late 1800s and eventually became one of the largest to take place in Seville. At many Fair events, including the opening bullfight, many women wear Flamenco dresses and dance a very specific type of Flamenco – the Sevillanas. The Fair still shows its origins with many horse-drawn carriages carrying people wearing traditional costumes that span centuries. The Festival is represented in this production by these random people that come in and out of the scenes. Figaro, in a sense is their gang leader. They show us, in their costuming, the history of the festival and give an unconventional quality to many moments including various change of scenes.
Using Almodóvar as our muse, in combination with characters who create the festival atmosphere that happens during the Feria de Abril, we are able to fully inhabit the zany world Rossini has created, and to tell its story in the kind of fresh and interesting way that his masterpiece deserves.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015 7:30pm.
Sunday, October 18, 2015 2:00pm.
Orpheum Theater | Slosburg Hall
Estimated Run Time: 3 hours
(with one interimission)
LIBRETTIST Cesare Sterbini
Based on the French comedy
Le Barbier de Séville
by Pierre Beaumarchais.
Rome; December 20, 1816
Opera Omaha Premiere:
April 30, 1964
Recent Opera Omaha Performances:
*Opera Omaha Mainstage Debut
J. Gawf │Chorus Master
William A. Miller
James C. Little
Kristen Bailey │Stilt Walker
Erika Overturff │Artistic Director & Choreographer
Ryan Christopher Seate
Thomas Wilkins │Music Director
Ernest Richardson │Resident Conductor
Susanna Perry Gilmore, Concertmaster
Ann Beebe, Associate Concertmaster
Elizabeth Furuta, 2ND Associate Concertmaster
Christopher Hake, Assistant Concertmaster
Keith Plenert, Principal
Frank Seligman, Associate Principal
Thomas Kluge, Principal
Brian Sherwood, Associate Principal
Paul Ledwon, Principal
Gregory Clinton, Associate Principal
Will Clifton, Principal
William Ritchie, Assistant Principal
Maria Harding, Principal
Leslie Fagan, Assistant Principal
Alexandra Rock, Principal
Heather Baxter, Assistant Principal
Carmelo Galante, Principal
Daniel Giacobbe, Assistant Principal
James Compton, Principal
Wenmin Zhang, Assistant Principal
Ross Snyder, Principal
Sheryl Hadeka, Associate Principal
K. Craig Bircher, Principal
Dwight Thomas, Principal
Ken Yoshida, Principal
Robert Burrows, Assistant Principal
Bradford Courage, Orchestra Manager
Mark Haar, Assistant Librarian
Rick Jones, Stage Manager
Jeff Baron, Assistant Stage Manager
Kristin Patch, Artistic Manager
Rachel Sepulveda, General Manager
Jessica Slais, Music Librarian / Director of Artistic Planning