Last night, I attended a performance of The Barber of Seville, named after the Useless Precaution, a play by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais. The “comic opera” by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini is appearing at The Vienna State Opera. Unlike many operas, its lighthearted plot has no dark drama, betrayal, murder, or death. Seats at the State Opera sell out quickly, so getting a ticket was exciting!
“Despite a famously disastrous 1816 premiere, Rossini’s madcap comedy has become a favorite of audiences everywhere. Filled with instantly recognizable arias and ample opportunities for vocal virtuosity and hilarious hijinks, the Barber always proves a delightful treat.” Concertvienna.com
Mezzosoprano Cecilia Molinari stars as Rosina, with baritone Marco Caria as Figaro, the “swaggering barber of Seville,” and South African tenor Levy Sekgapane as Count Almaviva, Rosina’s love interest. Paolo Bordogna and Peter Kellner are cast as Rosina’s lecherous guardian, Dr. Bartolo, and her singing teacher, Don Basilio. Aurora Marthens plays Marcellina (Berta), Basilio’s servant, and Nikita Ivasechko is Fiorello, Count Almaviva’s Servant. Ruth Brauer-Kvam plays Ambrogio, Dr. Bartolo’s servant, who doesn’t sing or speak any lines, but is a big part of the action and comedy
The Barbiere di Siviglia is directed by Herbert Fritsch. Fritsch is also an accomplished actor, set designer, and media artist.
The Vienna State Opera
An internationally recognized opera house, The Vienna State Opera hosts hundreds of performances each year, featuring stars from all over the world. Performances are accompanied by the State Opera Orchestra, whose musicians are also members of the Vienna Philharmonic. Giacomo Sagripanti conducts the orchestra.
The opera house has been preserved since 1869. The facades are “decorated with Renaissance-style arches, and the veranda on Vienna’s Ring Road side emphasizes the building’s public character”. The arches above the veranda feature five bronze statues by German sculptor “Ernst Julius Hähnel, representing heroism, tragedy, fantasy, comedy, and love”.
The rooftop sculptures by Ernst Julius Hähnel are of two goddesses, representing harmony and poetry, riding immortal, winged-horse Pegasus. Fountains on the right and left side of the opera house are by Austrian sculptor Josef Gasser.
“On the right and left sides of the opera house are fountains by Austrian sculptor Josef Gasser, representing two different worlds: on the left, music, dance, joy, and levity, and on the right, seduction, sorrow, love, and revenge.” wiener-staatsoper.at
The Barber of Seville by Gioacchino Rossini, with libretto by Cesare Sterbini, is based on French playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais’ stage play of the same name. It’s set in the 17th century and presented in two acts summarized here.
Photography wasn’t allowed, but many people sneaked in a photo of the cast during their finale stage call. My seat was on the second level overlooking the orchestra, and I sat between a young Chinese couple and a fun Italian woman also traveling solo. They were excellent company and seemed to enjoy the opera as much as I did.
This is my last week in Vienna, so attending an opera before departing made me very happy! The artists and orchestra were fantastic, and hands down, it was one of the best operas I’ve enjoyed! :) I’m headed to nearby Bratislava Slovakia next week. Although it took me a few weeks to get comfortable and warm up to Vienna, I’m now under its spell, and sad to be leaving….