KIRO NEWSRADIO

Opera known for catchy music, humor shines in Seattle

May 10, 2024, 3:48 PM | Updated: May 13, 2024, 11:23 am

Photo: Megan Moore as Rosina in "The Barber of Seville" at Seattle Opera....

Megan Moore as Rosina in "The Barber of Seville" at Seattle Opera. (Photo: Sunny Martini via Seattle Opera)

(Photo: Sunny Martini via Seattle Opera)

It’s an opera with music so catchy it’s been featured in everything from movies to cartoons and remains popular more than 100 years after it was written.

KIRO Newsradio’s Heather Bosch spoke with key people involved in Seattle Opera’s production of “The Barber of Seville.”

The conductor of the show, Valentina Peleggi, said the music of fellow Italian Gioachino Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” is so infectious and catchy that she anticipates it even as she approaches the podium.

“Before I even raise the baton and go for that downbeat, I feel — everybody feels in the orchestra — this tension (that) something is going to happen,” she said.

Peleggi compared the pulsing energy of the music to bubbling wine, “that really drives the drama but also drives your heartbeat.”

Photo: Valentina Peleggi conducts the Seattle Symphony in for "The Barber of Seville" at Seattle Opera.

Valentina Peleggi conducts the Seattle Symphony in for “The Barber of Seville” at Seattle Opera. (Photo: Sunny Martini via Seattle Opera)

That driving rhythm is not just coming from the orchestra pit. Mezzo-soprano Megan Moore plays the part of Rosina.

“Yes, there’s a lot of coloratura — a lot of really, really fast notes — and it’s going to amaze people to hear, especially if it’s their first time really hearing opera singing. It’s like vocal gymnastics,” Moore said.

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She said it’s also a physically demanding performance.

“Not only are we giving you the vocal fireworks, but we’re giving you the physical fireworks. We are running around, jumping around, rolling around on the floor. It is so tiring in the best way,” Moore said.

“It’s a very physical production,” Director Lindy Hume said. “It’s a very interesting juggling act, this one.”

He pointed out it involves much more than telling performers where to stand.

“No, it’s about bringing the story to life,” she said.

The story is a comedy. In fact, Hume insists, “It is probably the greatest sitcom, ever.”

It comes complete with a familiar rom-com plot.

“It’s a timeless story of young people and love winning out, over all obstacles and over the older people who would try to stop young people from being young people,” she said.

Photo: Duke Kim as Count Almaviva and Megan Moore as Rosina in "The Barber of Seville" at Seattle Opera.

Duke Kim as Count Almaviva and Megan Moore as Rosina in “The Barber of Seville” at Seattle Opera. (Photo: Sunny Martini via Seattle Opera)

Helping the love-struck Rosina and her young suitor get together is the enterprising barber Figaro, whose antics — during a shave and a haircut — always draw laughs.

“Comedy does not age well, normally, but some of these jokes, these visual jokes and musical jokes, are still really sweet,” she said. “If you get them right, you feel like you’ve really achieved some kind of weird time travel situation.”

“It’s just pure joy,” Moore shared.

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Charm, humor and infectious music have kept the century-old opera popular with audiences and performers.

“I think it’s a joy and an honor for us as creators to invite the audience to just escape from their lives and just enjoy this beautiful, fun, funny, hilarious, heartwarming — and very human, as well — story,” Moore said.

Peleggi shared a silimar sentiment.

“You know music, in the end, is connection,” Peleggi said. “All the souls on the stage, off stage. It’s a big embrace. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to share it.”

“The Barber of Seville” runs through May 18 at McCaw Hall.

Heather Bosch is an award-winning anchor and reporter on KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of her stories here. Follow Heather on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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Opera known for catchy music, humor shines in Seattle