The Barber of Seville
The Barber of Seville returns to Opera Santa Barbara for the first time since 2001. Gioachino Rossini’s laugh-out-loud romantic comedy has been entertaining audiences for more than 200 years with its outrageous stage antics and vocal acrobatics. Featuring some of opera’s most recognizable tunes, audiences are sure to leave the theater singing Figaro, Figaro, Fiiiiiii-garo!
The Barber of Seville tells the story of a smart and savvy young woman who must outsmart a pompous old lecher who stands between her and her true love. Hilarity ensues as the would-be couple, aided and abetted by a wily barber, run through a barrage of trickery that includes more than a few false identities, a most unusual voice lesson and opera’s funniest case of scarlet fever. They meet a few close shaves along the way, but in the end time’s up for the old goat and love trumps all.
Opera Santa Barbara’s Artistic & General Director, Kostis Protopapas conducts a crack team for this production. Mezzo-soprano Cassandra Zoé Velasco, tenor Andrew Bidlack and baritone Alexander Elliott make their company debuts as Rosina, Almaviva, and Figaro. “These three singing actors are the complete package,” says Protopapas. “They possess top-notch voices, stage presence to burn, and on top of that they look like Hollywood stars.” Peter Strummer and Nathan Stark will sing Bartolo and Basilio, the opera’s bumbling baddies. The irrepressible Josh Shaw, Artistic Director of the trail-blazing Pacific Opera Project, directs this fanciful production inspired by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.
“There’s a reason Barber of Seville is opera’s most popular comedy,” says General & Artistic Director Kostis Protopapas. “Rossini is a melodic genius and a master comedian… The Barber of Seville is the most fun evening at the opera you’ll ever have.”
(Opera Santa Barbara offers pre-show lectures 45 minutes prior to each performance, free to all Barber ticket-holders. Presenters: Bob Weinman/Fri-6:45pm & Simon Williams/Sun-1:45pm)
Named artistic director of Opera Santa Barbara in August 2015, Kostis Protopapas made his company conducting debut with Carmen in November 2016.
2016 saw the end of Kostis' long association with Tulsa Opera, where he served as Artistic Director from November 2007 until May 2013, as Interim Executive Director from November 2011 until February 2013 and as Associate Conductor and Chorus Master from 2001 until 2007. During his 15-year tenure with the company, Kostis conducted 30 productions of a diverse repertoire extending from popular classics like La Boheme, Carmen and Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci to contemporary American works like Elmer Gantry, Of Mice and Men and A Streetcar Named Desire. About his 2011 Barber of Seville performances, Alex Ross of The New Yorker wrote "Most impressive was the fluid idiomatic playing of the orchestra... In any city, it's rare to find a conductor that sets the right tempo so consistently that you forget he's there."
Kostis' leadership at Tulsa Opera focused on furthering the company's long-standing reputation for artistic excellence and expanding the company's commitment to contemporary and American opera. Under his leadership the company produced a major American work each season between 2011 and 2016. Other key initiatives of his tenure included the development of the Tulsa Studio Artists Program, the expansion of company's outreach and educational programs, and the forging of new partnerships with arts organizations in Tulsa and beyond.
Between 202 and 2008 Kostis was also an Assistant Conductor for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, LA Opera and Santa Fe Opera. At the Lyric Opera of Chicago he also served as Assistant Chorus Master under Donald Palumbo for two seasons. Kostis started his career on the music staff of Virginia Opera and Opera Memphis; he conducted at Opera in the Ozarks every summer from 2000 to 2004; has been a regular guest conductor at Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis since 2007 and a guest conductor for the Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Columbus, Shreveport Opera, El Paso Opera, Winter Opera St. Louis and the Westmoreland Symphony. In 2016-17 he will return to Winter Opera St. Louis to conduct La Cenerentola.
Born in Athens, Greece, Kostis Protopapas studied Archaeology and History of Art at the University of Athens before coming to the United States in 1993, on an Onassis Foundation scholarship, to study piano at The Boston Conservatory and conducting at Boston University. He became an American citizen in 2011 and splits his time between Chicago and Santa Barbara, with his wife, soprano and stage director Cathleen Dunn-Protopapas, and their four cats, Gus, Miles, Zsa-Zsa and Gigi.
Director Josh Shaw brings his distinctive artistic vision, formed over a decade of work in opera and music theatre and the experiences from over 100 stage productions. In addition to singing over 35 operatic roles, he has directed, produced, and overseen set and costume design for a wide variety of performances from concerts to grand operas. He is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Pacific Opera Project (POP), a Los-Angeles based company dedicated to producing affordable, accessible, and ENTERTAINING opera. During the 2014 season Mr. Shaw directed sold-out and critically acclaimed productions of Tosca, Carmen, La Calisto and The Turn of the Screw for POP as well as Lucia di Lammermoor and a Star Trek-themed Abduction from the Seraglio for the Southern Illinois Music Festival. For the latter, he also wrote a new English libretto and book. In 2013 Mr. Shaw directed and designed productions of Il barbiere di Siviglia, Le nozze di Figaro, and The Mikado for Pacific Opera Project, Carmen for the Southern Illinois Music Festival, The Medium for Redlands Opera Theater, Gallantry and A Hand of Bridge for Chamber Opera Players of Los Angeles, multiple new works for The New Fangled Opera Company in New Orleans, and Annie for Burbank Community Theater. Between October of 2011 and December of 2014, Mr. Shaw directed and designed 28 fully staged operas or musicals. He currently has twelve scheduled for 2015.
Mr. Shaw is the Resident Director for Chamber Opera Players of Los Angeles and has directed productions of Il segretto di Susanna, A Hand of Bridge, Gallantry, A Sunday Excursion, The Man on the Bearskin Rug, Three Sisters who are not Sisters, and The Last Silent Voice (World Premiere) for the up and coming company. He has also been on staff at Opera Neo in San Diego for the past two seasons as a stage director and Director of Community Events. He will return in 2015 to direct Gianni Schicchi And The Impresario. Other recent directorial projects include Cosi fan tutte, Trouble in Tahiti, Sweeney Todd, and Don Giovanni. Upcoming projects include a revival La bohème AKA “The Hipsters”, Ariadne auf Naxos, Falstaff, and Viva la Mamma! with POP; Into the Woods with Burbank Community Theater; Don Giovanni with Redlands Opera Theater; Cavalleria rusticana and I pagliacci with the Celestial Opera Company; and Tosca and The Impresario with the Southern Illinois Music Festival.
In Southern California Mr. Shaw has sung with Center Stage Opera, Lyric Opera of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Metropolitan Opera, Intimate Opera Company, The Celestial Opera Company, and Opera Pasadena. He has toured the United States with the Pasadena-based Gilbert & Sullivan troupe, Opera a la Carte for multiple seasons. He has also worked and recorded albums with LA Operetta Project, a foundation dedicated to recording lost early American operetta and music theatre. Outside of Southern California, Mr. Shaw has sung for Opera Fairbanks, Capital Opera of Sacramento, High Desert Opera, and Opera Las Vegas. As a lyric tenor, Mr. Shaw’s most celebrated roles include Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Rodolfo in La bohème, Alfredo in La traviata, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Don José in Carmen, and the title role in Faust. In conjunction with the Los Angeles Ring Festival in 2010, he sang the lead role of Arindal in Lyric Opera of Los Angeles’ U.S. staged premiere of Richard Wagner’s first opera, Die Feen, of which the LA Times said, “…tenor Josh Shaw revealed a grasp of the heroic potential and temporary madness of Arindal.”
Mr. Shaw is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University and Southern Illinois University, with a master’s degree in Opera/Music Theater.
Featured by Opera News as one of their 'top 25 brilliant young artists' (October 2015), tenor Andrew Bidlack began the 2016-17 Season at Dallas Opera where he prepares two new roles: Lensky in Eugene Onegin and Greenhorn/Ishmael in Moby. He develops the role of Christopher Morcom in The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing (by Justine Chen and David Simpatico) for American Lyric Theater, and travels to Madison Opera for the role of Tamino in Die Zauberflöte. Also in Madison he performs with the Madison Symphony Orchestra Principle Organist in a program of arias from Handel's Messiah, Mendelssohn's Elijah, and other opera favorites. He reprises Rob Hall in a concert performance of Joby Talbot's Everest at Dallas Opera, and Getry's rarely heard opera Zémire et Azor makes great use of the artist's flexible coloratura when he sings the title role at Saratoga Opera.
Recent highlights include his European and UK debut in the challenging role of Private John Ball in In Parenthesis, Welsh National Opera's world-premiere by Iain Bell, directed by David Poutney and conducted by Carlo Rizzi with performances at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden; and his Metropolitan Opera of New York debut as Beppe in I pagliacci, where he also sang the Lamplighter while covering Edmondo Manon in Lescaut for which he won critical accolades. At Arizona Opera he joined the production of Florencia en el Amazonas as Arcadio.
Bidlack is a frequent interpreter of contemporary music; he created the roles of Rob Hall in Joby Talbot's Everest at Dallas Opera and that of Irving Tashman in Ricky Ian Gordon's Morning Star at Cincinnati Opera. He workshopped Greenhorn/Ishmael in the developmental production of Moby Dick at San Francisco Opera while he was an Adler Fellow and inaugurated Tandcredi in The Inspector (John Musto) at Wolf Trap. As a Merolino, he created the role of Charles Carter in Thomas Pasatieri's The Hotel Casablanca. Making his debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago, he appeared at Carnegie Hall as The Young Collector in their production of A Streetcar Named Desire with Renée Fleming, a role he also sang in Chicago. At Dallas Opera, he sang Sandy in The Lighthouse for the inception of their Chamber Opera Series.
With a large number of Rossini/Mozart and bel canto roles also to his credit, Andrew has appeared as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Ferrando in Così fan tutte at Florida Grand Opera; Rodrigo in Rossini's Otello at Opera Southwest; Almaviva and Don Ramiro La cenerentola at Opera Omaha; Tonio in La fille du régiment at Palm Beach Opera and PORTopera; Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor at San Francisco Opera; Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore at Empire State Lyric Theater; and Bastien in Bastien and Bastienna at Des Moines Metro Opera.
Cassandra Zoe Velasco
A recent graduate of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program at the Los Angeles Opera mezzo-soprano Cassandra Zoe Velasco is considered one of Mexico’s rising stars of opera. Cassandra was a semi-finalist of the 2012 edition of Operalia. Additionally, she represented Mexico at the Monserrat Caballé Competition (Spain), the Competizione dell´Opera (Germany) and the Teatro Colón Competition (Argentina). From the age of 22, Ms. Velasco has starred in productions in Mexico City, including La Scala di Seta, and L’Ocassione fa il Ladro with ProOpera, Angelina in La Cenerentola and Isolier in Le Comte Ory with Mexico National Opera Company, Isabella in Italiana in Algeri with Arpegio Productions, and Charlotte in Werther with Festival Frances. She made her Opera de Bellas Artes debut as Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana, followed by Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Last season brought Ms. Velasco’s return to the Metropolitan Opera for productions of Madama Butterfly and Simon Boccanegra and her debut with Ash Lawn Opera as Dorabella in Così fan tutte. In the 2016-2017 season, she returns to the Metropolitan Opera to sing the 3rd Nymph in Rusalka and cover the Cretan Woman in Idomeneo, sings Tamiri in Vivaldi’s Farnace with Spoleto USA, and the Zweite Dame in Die Zauberflöte with Cincinnati Opera. Future seasons include Dorabella in Così fan tutte with Opera San Jose, the title role in Maria de Buenos Aires with Nashville Opera, Olga in The Merry Widow with the Metropolitan Opera, and Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Lyric Opera of Kansas City.
Baritone Alexander Elliott begins his 2017-18 season singing Sonora in La fanciulla del West with New York City Opera. He reprises the role of John Brooke in Adamo's Little Women for Annapolis Opera in November. In 2018 he returns to the Orlando Philharmonic for Master Peter's Puppet Show. He has performed leading roles with companies including Opera Omaha, Dallas Opera, Tulsa Opera, and Portland Opera (where he was also a resident artist). His roles include Gulgielmo in Così fan tutte, Marcello in La bohème, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Anthony in Sweeney Todd, Belcore in L'elisir d'amore, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro and the title role in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. He was also a Merola Artist with San Francisco Opera and was the recipient of the 2013 John Moriarty Award from Central City Opera. Alexander received his training at Florida State University where he studied with David Okerlund.
As an artist who constantly reworks his roles and seeks to expand the breadth of his repertoire, Peter has earned a reputation for endowing his characterizations with increased depth and humanity. His versatility as an actor is matched by musical flexibility and linguistic prowess, as he is fluent in over seven languages.
Highlights of Peter’s extensive career include appearances with The Metropolitan Opera (Beckmesser, die Meistersinger; Dansker, Billy Budd), San Francisco Opera (Dulcamara, L’elisir D’amore; Bartolos, Figaro & Barber; Benoit/Alcindoro, La Bohème; Antonio, Marriage of Figaro; Bogdanovich, Merry Widow), Houston Grand Opera (Bartolo, Barber of Seville; Gouverneur, le Comte Ory), Washington Opera (Fra Melitone, La forza del destino; Kezal, the Bartered Bride), Dallas Opera (Baron Zeta, the Merry Widow), New York City Opera (Rashid, Haroun and the Sea of Stories world premiere; Sacristan, Tosca; Bartolo; Don Prudenzio, Viaggo a Rreims; Colonel Vandeveer, the Glass Blowers; Don Pasquale), L’Opéra de Montréal (Geronte, Manon Lescaut; Bartolo, Barber of Seville; Faninal, Rosenkavalier, de Brétigny, Manon; Mustafa, L’italiana in Algeri; Alberich, das Rheingold), Canadian Opera Company (Bartolo; Sacristan; Leporello, Don Giovanni; Fra Melitone, Benoit/Alcindoro), Teatro dell’Opera di Roma (Peter Quince, A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Teatro de la Zarzuela Madrid (Don Magnifico, Cenerentola), Seattle Opera(Alberich, Der Ring des Nibelungen; Sacristan), Opera New Orleans (Bartolo, Fra Melitone, Alberich), San Diego Opera (Don Alfonso, Cosí fan tutte; Faninal), Israeli Symphony (Beethoven’s 9th, Dvorak’s Stabat Mater). Peter also enjoyed fifteen years of performing in German and Austrian opera houses.
Highlights of recordings and commercial broadcasts include Benoit, La Bohème, Live From Lincoln Center (Broadcast & DVD), Fra Melitone, Forza del destino; Sacristan, Tosca. (Broadcast on CBC Television & available on DVDs), Making of an Opera (DVD), Music Master, Ariadne auf Naxos, with Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera (US National PBS Broadcast & available on DVD) and Devilshoof, The Bohemian Girl, with Central City Opera (Voce Records). In addition, many of Peter’s performances have been broadcast in Europe and North America.
Praised by the Washington Post as having a voice of "unearthly power," The Houston Press as being a "blow away singer," and the San Jose Mercury News as a "natural comic actor," American bass, Nathan Stark, has performed on operatic, concert and recital stages throughout the United States, Europe and China. Mr. Stark has performed with opera houses throughout the United States, including the Metropolitan Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Dayton Opera, Atlanta Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Virginia Opera and Arizona Opera, to name a few. Some of his noted operatic roles have included Mustafà in L'Italiana in Algeri, both Don Basilio and Don Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia, both Leporello and il Commendatore in Don Giovanni, both Monterone and Sparafucile in Rigoletto, both Zuniga & Escamillo in Carmen, Colline in La bohème, Banco in Macbeth and Bottom in A Midsummer's Night Dream. He has also performed in concert with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Philharmonic, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, Canton Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony Orchestra, Holland Symphony Orchestra and the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. In the 2017-18 season, Mr. Stark makes company debuts as Banco in Verdi’s Macbeth with Opera San Antonio, Don Basilio in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Santa Barbara, The Judge in An American Solider with Opera Saint Louis, Colline in Puccini's La bohème with Opera Orlando, Rocco in Beethoven's Fidelio with Boston Baroque, and returns to Opera San Jose for the United States premiere of Alma Deutscher's Cinderella. On the concert stage, he will also be performing the bass solos for Verdi’s Requiem with the Dayton Philharmonic,Columbus Symphony Orchestra and the Greenville Symphony. In 2005, he was the featured soloist for the nationally televised opening ceremonies of the Air Force One exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Library for former First Ladies, Laura Bush and Nancy Reagan, members of the United States Senate and Congress, and for, then President of the United States, George W. Bush. Mr. Stark has received several vocal awards including first place in the Corbett Scholarship Opera Competition for Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and the 2006 San Diego District Metropolitan Opera Vocal Competition. He holds degrees in vocal & opera performance from California State University, Long Beach (B.M. & M.M.) and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (A.D.) His voice teachers have included Dr. Lewis Woodward, Dr. Cherrie Llewellyn, Shigemi Matsumoto, Marilyn Horne and Kenneth Shaw.
Seville. Count Almaviva comes in disguise to the house of Doctor Bartolo and serenades Rosina, whom Bartolo keeps confined to the house. Figaro the barber, who knows all the town’s secrets and scandals, explains to Almaviva that Rosina is Bartolo’s ward, not his daughter, and that the doctor intends to marry her. Figaro devises a plan: the count will disguise himself as a drunken soldier with orders to be quartered at Bartolo’s house so that he may gain access to the girl. Almaviva is excited and Figaro looks forward to a nice cash pay-off.
Rosina reflects on the voice that has enchanted her and resolves to use her considerable wiles to meet the man it belongs to—as Almaviva has led her to believe, a poor student named Lindoro. Bartolo appears with Rosina’s music master, Don Basilio. Basilio warns Bartolo that Count Almaviva, who has made known his admiration for Rosina, has been seen in Seville. Bartolo decides to marry Rosina immediately. Figaro, who has overheard the plot, warns Rosina and promises to deliver a note from her to Lindoro. Bartolo suspects that Rosina has indeed written a letter, but she outwits him at every turn. Bartolo warns her not to trifle with him.
Almaviva arrives, creating a ruckus in his disguise as a drunken soldier, and secretly passes Rosina his own note. Bartolo is infuriated by the stranger’s behavior and claims that he has an official exemption from billeting soldiers. Figaro announces that a crowd has gathered in the street, curious about the noise. The civil guard bursts in to arrest Almaviva, but when he secretly reveals his true identity to the captain he is instantly released. Everyone except Figaro is amazed by this turn of events.
Bartolo suspects that the “soldier” was a spy planted by Almaviva. The count returns, this time disguised as Don Alonso, a music teacher and student of Don Basilio, to give Rosina her singing lesson in place of Basilio, who, he says, is ill at home. “Don Alonso” then tells Bartolo that he is staying at the same inn as Almaviva and has found a letter from Rosina. He offers to tell her that it was given to him by another woman, seemingly to prove that Lindoro is toying with Rosina on Almaviva’s behalf. This convinces Bartolo that “Don Alonso” is indeed a student of the scheming Basilio, and he allows him to give Rosina her lesson. With Bartolo dozing off, Almaviva and Rosina declare their love.
Figaro arrives to give Bartolo his shave and manages to snatch the key that opens the doors to Rosina’s balcony. Suddenly Basilio shows up looking perfectly healthy. Almaviva, Rosina, and Figaro convince him with a quick bribe that he is sick with scarlet fever and must go home at once. While Bartolo gets his shave, Almaviva plots with Rosina to elope that night. But the doctor overhears them and furiously realizes he has been tricked again. Everyone disperses.
Bartolo summons Basilio, telling him to bring a notary so Bartolo can marry Rosina that very night. Bartolo then shows Rosina her letter to Lindoro, which seems to prove that he is in league with Almaviva. Heartbroken and convinced that she has been deceived, Rosina agrees to marry Bartolo. A thunderstorm passes. Figaro and the count climb a ladder to Rosina’s balcony and let themselves in with the key. Rosina appears and confronts Lindoro, who finally reveals his true identity as Almaviva. Basilio shows up with the notary. Bribed and threatened, he agrees to be a witness to the marriage of Rosina and Almaviva. Bartolo arrives with soldiers, but it is too late. He accepts that he has been beaten, and Figaro, Rosina, and the count celebrate their good fortune.