Disguises and false identities abound as men — young and old — vie for the hand of the beautiful Rosina in one of the funniest and most frenetic operas ever composed! Rossini’s delightful 19th-century romp centers on “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro,” a scheming barber and jack-of-all-trades, sung by Dallas Opera favorite Nathan Gunn, who plots with Count Almaviva to release Bartolo’s ward from her gilded cage.
The all-star ensemble includes acclaimed mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as the gorgeous-yet-spunky Rosina, lyric tenor Alek Shrader as the love-struck Almaviva, and commanding Turkish bass Burak Bilgili as Don Basilio in their much-anticipated TDO debuts. It also marks the welcome return of the inimitable Donato DiStefano, a comic veteran of previous Dallas Opera productions of Barber and La Cenerentola, in a role he has sung all over the world: Dr. Bartolo.
As an extra visual treat, John Conklin’s set design is inspired by the work of the Surrealist artist René Magritte — after all, as in all great comedy, things are rarely what they seem.
From the first notes of one of the world’s most famous overtures to the final curtain, your heart will be racing — but not for the exit!
Seville. Count Almaviva comes in disguise to the house of Doctor Bartolo and serenades Rosina, whom Bartolo keeps confined to the house, beneath her balcony window. Figaro the barber, who knows all the town’s secrets and scandals, arrives. He 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 its owner, whom the count leads her to believe is 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. Angry at her defiance, 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 noisily claims that he has an official exemption from billeting soldiers. Figaro announces that a crowd has gathered in the street, curious about the argument they hear coming from inside the house. 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. He announces he will give Rosina her music lesson in place of Basilio, who, he says, is ill at home. “Don Alonso” 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 music lesson. She sings an aria, and, with Bartolo dozing off, Almaviva and Rosina express 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, as proof that he is in league with Almaviva. Heartbroken and convinced that she has been deceived, she agrees to marry Bartolo. A thunderstorm rages. 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. Almaviva explains to Bartolo that it is useless to protest and Bartolo accepts that he has been beaten. Figaro, Rosina, and the count celebrate their good fortune.
Nathan Gunn (Figaro) Nathan Gunn returns for his fourth role with The Dallas Opera having last performed here as The Lodger in Dominick Argento’s The Aspern Papers last season and as Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale in 2010. He made his Dallas opera debut as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte in 2003. Mr. Gunn has appeared in many of the world’s leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Paris Opera, the Bayerische Staatsoper, and the Glyndebourne Opera Festival. Other roles in his repertoire include the titles roles in Billy Budd and Hamlet, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore and the Count in Le nozze di Figaro. A frequent interpreter of new works, Mr. Gunn created the role of Clyde Griffiths in Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy at the Metropolitan Opera, the role of Alec Harvey in André Previn’s Brief Encounter for the Houston Grand Opera and the role of Yeshua (Jesus) in Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene for the San Francisco Opera. Mr. Gunn’s appearances in Camelot and Carousel with the New York Philharmonic were broadcast live on PBS’s Great Performances. His extensive discography includes the title roles in Billy Budd and Il barbiere di Siviglia, the first complete recording of Oscar and Hammerstein’s Allegro, and several song cycle recordings, including Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s A Question of Light, which was commissioned by and premiered at the Dallas Opera in 2011.
Isabel Leonard (Rosina) Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard is making her Dallas opera debut as Rosina in these performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia, the role in which she made her debut earlier this season at both the San Francisco Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago. Metropolitan Opera audiences recently heard Ms. Leonard as Dorabella in Così fan tutte, and last season she appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in two important role debuts, as Miranda in Ades’s The Tempest and as Blanche in John Dexter’s production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites. She also appeared in the English-version of The Barber of Seville which was broadcast internationally in HD. Other recent Metropolitan Opera performances include appearances as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. Other career highlights include Sesto in Giulio Cesare at Opéra National de Paris, Cherubino at the Glyndebourne Festival in the new production of Le nozze di Figaro, and appearances with the Vienna State Opera as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia. She also made her role debut as Ruggiero in a new production of Handel’s Alcina at Opera National de Bordeaux and as Costanza in Vivaldi’s Griselda at the Santa Fe Opera. Other notable appearances include Cherubino at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and Dorabella in a new production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte at the Salzburg Festival, which was telecast live internationally. Ms. Leonard made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette conducted by Plácido Domingo, which was recorded for DVD release and broadcast live in HD.
Alek Shrader (Count Almaviva) Tenor Alek Shrader makes his Dallas Opera debut in this production. Mr. Shrader made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2012 as Ferdinand in Ades’ The Tempest and returned there to sing Almaviva in an English version of The Barber of Seville. Earlier this season Mr. Shrader sang Almaviva in performances of Rossini’s masterpiece at both the San Francisco Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago. He has sung Don Ramiro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola at the Hamburg State Opera, Ernesto in Donizetti’s Don Pasqualeat the Glyndebourne Festival, Tamino in Lyric Opera Chicago’s production of The Magic Flute, and the title role in Britten’s Albert Herring with the Los Angeles Opera and the Santa Fe Opera. Mr. Shrader has also appeared as Tamino in The Magic Flute at the San Francisco Opera and as Gonzalve in Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole at the Glyndebourne Festival. Mr. Shrader has also sung Lindoro in L’italiana in Algeri with Opera National de Bordeaux, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Theatre du Capitole de Toulouse and Ferrando in Così fan tutte at the Salzburg Festival. He has also appeared as Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, as Egeo in Giovanni Simon Mayr’s Medea in Corinto, as Belmonte in Die Entfürhrung aus dem Serail and as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.
Donato Di Stefano (Dr. Bartolo) Buffo bass, Donato DiStefano made his Dallas Opera debut as Don Magnifico in Rossini’s La Cenerentola in 2004 and returned for Don Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia in 2006 and the title role in Don Pasquale in 2010. He has appeared frequently at many of the world’s leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Munich, Paris, Brussels, Hamburg, Tokyo and Frankfurt, just to name a few. Recent appearances include the title role in Gianni Schicchi for the Canadian Opera Company, Bartolo in Leipzig, Hamburg and Munich, Don Magnifico in Valencia, and Sulpice in La Fille du regiment at the San Diego Opera. Other engagements have included Simone in Gianni Schicchi at the Metropolitan Opera and Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Washington National Opera, a role he has also sung in Toronto, Montreal, Tokyo, Leipzig, Munich and Lisbon. Other highlights of his career include Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola at the Canadian Opera Company and at La Monnaie in Brussels, and the title role of Gianni Schicchi in Frankfurt. He has also sung Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia in Amsterdam, Zürich, Frankfurt and at the Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro in Florence, at La Fenice in Venice, in Cardiff, Madrid, Florence, Tokyo and Salzburg, as well as Don Magnifico in La Ceneretola in Brussels, Madrid, Tel Aviv, and Toyko. Mr. DiStefano made his debut in the title role of Verdi’s Falstaff at the Saito Kinen Festival under the baton of Seiji Ozawa.
Burak Bilgili (Don Basilio) Turkish bass Burak Bilgili is making his Dallas Opera debut as Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia. From the time of his professional operatic debut at the Teatro alla Scala in 2002 as Don Alfonso in Lucrezia Borgia, Mr. Bilgili has enjoyed a busy international career. His upcoming engagements include the four villains in Les contes d’Hoffmann for Beijing, Nilakantha in Lakme for L’opera de Montreal, Mustafa inL’italiana in Algeri for Atlanta Opera, and Daland with the Michigan Opera Theatre. Recent engagements include Ferrando in Il trovatore at the Metropolitan Opera and the Grand Théâtre de Gèneve, Zaccaria in Nabucco with the Auckland Symphony and the Washington National Opera, Padre Guardiano in La forza del destino for Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Quasimodo in Bizet’s Notre Dame with the American Symphony Orchestra, Procida in I vespri Siciliani with the Caramoor Festival, and a return to the Savonlinna Festival for the world premiere of La Fenice. Other career highlights include Don Basilio in Il barbiere at the Grand Théâtre de Gèneve and the Seattle Opera, his San Francisco Opera debut as Ferrando in Il trovatore, Banquo in Macbeth for the Canadian Opera Company and the Seattle Opera, Timur in Turandot for the New York City Opera and Barcelona’s Gran Teatro del Liceu, Colline in La bohème and Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia for the Cincinnati Opera Festival and Leporello in Don Giovanni for the Metropolitan Opera.
Jennifer Aylmer (Berta) American soprano Jennifer Aylmer makes her debut with The Dallas Opera as Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia. Renowned for her compelling stage portrayals and impeccable musicianship, Ms. Aylmer made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Bella in the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy, and has been seen there since as Papagena in The Magic Flute, as well as being involved in productions of Il barbiere di Siviglia, Hansel and Gretel, and The Nose. Recent engagements include a return to Portland Opera as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Despina in Cosí fan tutte for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, her debut singing Monica in The Medium with Spoleto Festival USA, and Martha in the new opera John Brown with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Other highlights include leading roles the Handel operas Orlando, Flavio, and Rodelinda; Don Pasquale; Der Rosenkavalier; Street Scene; Falstaff; and The Turn of the Screw with such companies as New York City Opera, Minnesota Opera, Orlando Opera, Utah Opera, the Aspen Festival, Kentucky Opera, and Berkshire Opera. As a member of the Houston Grand Opera studio she created the role of Amy in the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s Little Women.
Nathan De’Shon Myers (Fiorello)American baritone Nathan De’Shon Myers made his Dallas Opera debut in 2006 as Fiorello in The Barber of Seville when he was a Resident Young Artist with the company. Since then, he has been a featured soloist with several major European opera companies including the Staatsoper Berlin, Stadttheater Trier, Theater Magdeburg, as well as with Chautauqua Opera and Central City Opera in the United States. During his 5-year tenure as a soloist with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, he was featured in a variety of roles including Ping in Turandot, Silvano in Un ballo in maschera, Schaunard in La bohème, Dandini in La Cenerentola and Matthieu in Andrea Chenier. He recently made his Austrian debut with the Salzburg Landestheater in the title role of Ernst Krenek’s Jonny Spielt Auf, where he was lauded for his flexible baritone and consummate stage presence. A highly versatile artist, Mr. Myers has begun to make a mark on the contemporary music scene with the recent release of the single What You Are from his upcoming gospel album Making a Way. In addition to performing, he also serves as Associate Choral Conductor and Director of Opera at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and is currently completing a second Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting at SMU.
Christian Teague (Ambrogio) Christian Teague, who makes his debut as a principal artist with the Dallas Opera in these performances of The Barber of Seville, was born in Fort Worth and first discovered his passion for music through piano lessons and performing in the Birdville School district of North Richland Hills. He attended Stephen F. Austin State University where he performed the roles of Figaro in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Kecal in Smetana’s Bartered Bride, and title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. While still in college he had the opportunity to be a featured soloist in works performed in Italy, Austria, and the UK. He was the winner of the senior men’s division and was awarded the Grady Harlan Award for the most promising professional voice at the Texoma NATS competition and as a result attended the AIMS training program in Graz, Austria. He is currently performing the role of the “Giant” in the Dallas Opera’s outreach production of Jack and the Beanstalk and is the Baritone in Residence at First United Methodist Church of Hurst and the First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth.
Brian Post (Sergeant) Baritone Brian Post, a member of The Dallas Opera chorus since 2010, makes his solo debut with these performances of The Barber of Seville. As a chorister, he has appeared in our acclaimed productions of Moby-Dick and Boris Godunov, among many others. He has also performed with the Dallas Symphony chorus in Verdi’s Requiem and Four Sacred Pieces, Elgar’s Music Makers, Mozart’s Requiem and Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion under the baton of Jaap van Zweden. Other engagements include being a featured soloist in Finzi’s In Terra Pax with orchestra, and singing in the chorus for the Dallas Opera productions of Carmen and Die tote Stadt. Mr. Post has studied privately with faculty at the University of Central Arkansas and the University of North Texas.
Herb Kellner (Associate Director) Herb Kellner graduated from Indiana University School of Music with a master’s degree in opera stage direction and joined the staff of the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the fall of that same year. He made his professional directing debut in 1976 with the Peoria Civic Opera. In 1988 Kellner made his directing debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago with Puccini’s Tosca. He has also staged Tristan and Isolde, The Barber of Seville , Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers for Lyric Opera. Mr. Kellner has also directed at Los Angeles Opera, Portland Opera, San Diego Opera, and L’Opera de Montreal, among others. At New York’s ArtPark (a summer festival) he directed The Rake’s Progress, Cavalleria rusticana, Pagliacci, La bohème and Wagner’s Gotterdamerung. Mr. Kellner has been involved with the world premieres of such operas as Penderecki’s Paradise Lost at Lyric Opera of Chicago and Picker’s Thérèse Raquin at The Dallas Opera. Over the years Mr. Kellner has studied with assisted such directors as Frank Corsaro, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, John Copely, Sir Peter Hall and August Everding. His European engagements have included Tancredi at the Théâtre de Geneve, among others.
David Zimmerman (Wig & Make-up Design) David Zimmerman has worked with Dallas and other opera companies around the world. These include The Metropolitan Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Santa Fe Opera, Paris National Opera, and Opera Santa Barbara. Mr. Zimmerman’s career extends to Broadway, as well, where he has worked on shows including Wicked, Rocky Horror, Show Boat, South Pacific and Evita. Personal clients include Deborah Voigt, Joyce DiDonato, Patricia Racette, Martha Stewart, Olympia Dukakis and Ricky Martin. Mr. Zimmerman has also done the makeup for DIFFA Fashion Runway, Dallas Fashion and Art Charity, and the Yelp.com fashion event. Print credits include two features in Opera News plus features in both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. TV and film credits include Glamour Magazine’s “Women of the Year” and a feature film starring Anna Paquin.
Alexander Rom (Chorus Master) A native of Kharkov, Ukraine, Alexander Rom graduated from the Leningrad Conservatory of Music with a Masters Degree in Choral Conducting. Since immigrating to the United States, he has worked as a performer, conductor, educator, voice teacher, opera coach and composer. Maestro Rom has been the chorus master for The Dallas Opera since 1990. Maestro Rom has also been an opera coach with The Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Savonlinna Opera Festival, Cincinnati Festival and Ravinia Festival. Maestro Rom has worked with world renown singers including Paul Plishka, Mirella Freni, Nikolai Ghiaurov, Jorma Hynninen, Helga Dernesch, Martti Talvela, Joyce di Donato, and Jerry Hadley. Maestro Rom is an Honorary Visiting Professor at Sibelius Academy and Helsinki Conservatory of music in Finland. He was a Visiting Professor at Savonlinna Opera Festival Music Institute for ten years, where he staged and musically prepared a production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. He was a founder and a Music Director of The Grace Choral Society of Brooklyn, New York. Maestro Rom’s music and arrangements for voice, chorus, piano and other instruments have been performed in many prestigious venues. Mr. Rom maintains a private voice studio in Dallas, Texas.