A Night at the Opera — Il Barbiere di Siviglia

The Barber of Seville (not an image of the performance I saw)
The Barber of Seville (not an image of the performance I saw)

As many of you know, I very much enjoy listening to opera and going to performances. Lo and behold, I saw that Il Barbiere di SivigliaI (The Barber of Seville) by Gioacchino Rossini was going to be performed IN PADOVA at the end of the month. Naturally, I couldn’t resist. I’m actually glad I bought the tickets, too, because I learned that the

Gioachino Rossini, the composer
Gioachino Rossini, the composer

planned opera trip to Venice’s famous Teatro La Fenice to see Mozart’s Don Giovanni was no longer viable because o issues with the tickets.

Anyway, a fellow student/opera-buff and I went to the Teatro Comunale Giuseppe Verdi to go buy tickets — nosebleeds costing $28 a pop. Not too bad for an opera. When we got there, we learned that there weren’t any tickets left at that price. HOWEVER, somehow, the ticket-lady “found” two seats in the center-middle of the gallery (which is all the way at the top). I was convinced she used magic, but we bought the tickets anyway, and off we went.

Fast forward to the day of the opera, a Sunday matinee, my friend and I arrive at the opera house just before the overture began. We found our seats — only to discover that they had been taken by two men! We spoke with the usher, and she told us to kick them out — so we tried. To our surprise, the two gentlemen were able to produce real tickets, just like ours, with the same seat numbers! There was nothing we could do but go back down to the box office and explain the problem. By now, the overture was in full motion, so needless to say, we were stressed to the max.

Panorama of the inside of the theatre
Panorama of the inside of the theatre

The lady at the box office actually  wasn’t that surprised about what happened. We explained that we bought the tickets the Wednesday before, and that they were legitimate. It sounded like this wasn’t the first time they double-booked seats — now I understand the magic behind why we were able to get the tickets!

Anyway, to their dismay, probably, they found two open seats in the back of the ORCHESTRA level, and within a matter of seconds, the IMG_0966lady produced hand-written tickets for those seats, and rushed us to the seats just before the overture ended.

Insomma, we loved the opera. Unfortunately, though, we were expecting supra-titles with the english translation or the italian lyrics. What were we thinking! It turns out that, harkening back to the early days of opera, the ushers had produced libretti — the actual text of the opera — to the audience before the show. We didn’t get them because we were late, but I wasn’t too worried, since I had already since Il Barbiere. In reality, italians would have read the libretto beforehand (although this isn’t the case today), and they wouldn’t have had a need for the libretto.

 

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This opera, like many operas today, had a modern interpretation with a modern backdrop and costumes. It didn’t detract from the performance too much, but as a traditionalist, I prefer period dress and staging. The singers were very good, especially Dottore Bartolo and Count Almaviva. The Barber was pretty good and the Rosina was just okay — I’ve seen better at the met. All in all, though, i really enjoyed the performance, and it was worth every penny — especially since we got orchestra level seats! I still can’t believe it!

 

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