Arts & Culture

From Aficionados to Opera Newcomers, UK Opera Theatre's 'Barber of Seville' Will Have Audiences Laughing

photo of cast of UK Opera Theatre's "The Barber of Seville"
photo of Taylor Comstock and Kevin Glavin in UK Opera Theatre's "The Barber of Seville"
photo of fight scene in UK Opera Theatre's "The Barber of Seville"

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 23, 2017) University of Kentucky Opera Theatre brings to the stage this weekend one of opera's most popular works, Gioachino Rossini's critically acclaimed "The Barber of Seville," Feb. 24-26, at the Singletary Center for the Arts. The popularity of this celebrated opera is not just due to its comedic take on love but also its accessibility to all audience types, from opera aficionados to newcomers to the art form.

Director of UK's production, Cynthia Lawrence, endowed chair and professor of voice, agrees this show is great for individuals wanting to take in an opera for the first time. "As long as I've been a performer, people have asked me what opera do I have to go see first. And ('Barber of Seville') is one of my top three. For those of you who think that because we are singing in Italian, you're not going to understand it, that's not true. Because one, we have supertitles that are in English, and two, the humor that is on stage is universal."

Considered the world's most popular comic opera, "The Barber of Seville" is a wacky story that includes mistaken identities, baffling disguises and a feeling that all is fair in love and war — especially love. The show also is brimming with melodies that audiences of all walks of life will likely recognize, most notably the introductory patter song of the swaggering Figaro, the barber of the title.

"Everybody knows tunes from 'The Barber of Seville,'" Lawrence said. "You’ve seen it in Bugs Bunny cartoons; you’ve seen it in movies, Cheerios commercials. Everybody knows it!"

In addition to its accessibility and humor, UK Opera Theatre's production will offer local audiences an opportunity to see artist-in-residence Kevin Glavin in the role of Bartolo. The basso buffo’s career highlights have included Bartolo in "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" and Don Magnifico in "La Cenerentola" with San Francisco Opera; the title role in "Don Pasquale," Mustafà in "L’italiana in Algeri," Bartolo in "Il Barbiere di Siviglia," Don Inigo Gomez in "L’heure Espagnole," and the Sacristan in "Tosca" with New York City Opera; the title role in "Don Pasquale" with Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Colorado, the Opera Company of Philadelphia and L’Opéra de Montréal; Bartolo in "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" with Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Washington Opera, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Florentine Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Vancouver Opera, the Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires) and the Teatro Teresa Carreño (Caracas); and Mustafà in "L’italiana in Algeri" with Glimmerglass Opera, Opéra de Québec and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Additional highlights have included holiday concerts with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Seattle Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marvin Hamlisch at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Joining Glavin on stage for UK Opera Theatre's "The Barber of Seville" is a double cast that includes the following vocalists: Michael Pandolfo and Melvin Bozeman as Fiorello; Taylor Comstock and Zackery Morris as Conte Almaviva; Taeeun Moon and Michael Preacely as Figaro; Wanessa Campelo and Junghyun Lee as Rosina; Bongani Ndhlalane and Basilio; Audrey Adams and Beatriz Paroni as Berta; Kyle Burney and Andrew Durham as Ambrogio; Matt Pearce as Sergente; Henry Huhtulag as Notaro; and Harper Bullard, Ruthie Sangster, Emma Scott, Nicole Love, Elizabeth Massie and Jessica Bailey as the Towns Women. Members of the chorus for this opera are: Matt Pearce, Henry Huhtulag, Caleb Skinner, Cooper Fitch, Joseph McMullen, Kyle Hamlin, Michael Pandolfo, Melvin Bozeman, Jeffrey Oakman, Clement Baloyi, Kyle Burney, Andrew Durham and David Foster.

Lawrence said she is excited to bring this opera to a UK stage. "I've known the show for 30 years. It’s a show that I've loved for a very, very long time. I've performed it, my husband has performed it many times. And, I am excited to bring it to the students and the Lexington audience."

The curtain rises on "The Barber of Seville" 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26. Tickets range from $33-$38. Processing fees will be added to transaction upon purchase. All students coming to the box office with a mustache (glued on, painted on, or grown on, male and female) will get a discount of $5 off a $15 ticket. Regular priced tickets may be purchased through the Singletary Center ticket office by visiting, calling 859-257-4929, or in person at the venue.

The acclaimed UK Opera Theatre program is part of the UK School of Music at UK College of Fine Arts. The school has garnered a national reputation for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, composition and music theory.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue