Top creatives and a stellar international cast come together in Auckland this week to begin rehearsals for New Zealand Opera’s production of The Barber of Seville, opening in Auckland on 6 June before touring to Wellington and Christchurch.
The creative team is made up of Director Lindy Hume and Lighting Designer Matthew Marshall and acclaimed Kiwi Designer Tracy Grant Lord responsible for dreaming up the set and costumes that set the scene for Rossini’s fast-paced and madcap tale.
“Tracy Grant Lord's fantastic design is a chaotic collage of doors - an illogical architecture that makes perfect sense: the action takes place first in a streetscape and then inside a crazy, fusty old house with many rooms and a suspicious old man guarding the keys,” says Hume.
“Trapped inside, a young girl is growing into a woman who longs for escape. She hears enticing news from Figaro of the world outside those doors - a world of freedom and excitement, of noisy musicians and nosy neighbours, of Paris fashions, gossip and most thrillingly, a world of romance and adventure. And on the other side of her window, the Count Almaviva sings as he dreams of breaking down the doors to rescue her.”
American mezzo-soprano Sandra Piques Eddy makes her New Zealand debut as Rosina, during a busy operatic season that has included performances with the Metropolitan Opera, Florentine Opera and Japan’s Hyogo Performing Arts Center.
We welcome back Canadian treasure John Tessier to sing Count Almaviva, with one of Australia’s busiest singers Andrew Collis as his aging rival Dr Bartolo. Egyptian Bass-Baritone Ashraf Sewailam plays Don Basilio, and our international cast is rounded out by our Figaro, played by rising Australian operatic star Morgan Pearse who returns after winning many fans as Belcore in last year’s The Elixir of Love.
The Kiwi contingent in this production includes one of New Zealand’s most in-demand sopranos Morag Aitchison as Berta, and Jesse Wikiriwhi playing Dr Bartolo’s servant Ambrogio.
The roles of Fiorello/Officer will be performed by two of New Zealand’s most exciting baritones – James Harrison will sing the Auckland season, and 2018 Lexus Song Quest winner Joel Amosa will perform in Wellington and Christchurch. Amosa has just been named the 2019 Dame Malvina Major Young Artist with New Zealand Opera, receiving music, language and performance coaching to support him in preparation for the role.
Also featuring the Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus and our top regional orchestras in each city, under the baton of New Zealand Opera Director of Music, Wyn Davies.
There are many reasons The Barber of Seville is one of the most popular operas of all time, not least Figaro’s show-stopping aria which has been endlessly co-opted into pop culture. But Hume says that it’s the story that has made the opera’s appeal lasting.
At its heart, like all timeless dramas, The Barber of Seville is about people, relationships and a human theme everyone can relate to - the battle between younger and older generations. Two young people in love overcome all obstacles to be together. Set to Rossini's ebullient melodies, this is the secret of its longevity.
The Barber of Seville opens at ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre on 6 June for four performances before travelling to Wellington and Christchurch. This co-production with Queensland Opera and Seattle Opera. Tickets are on sale now at Ticketmaster (Auckland and Wellington) and Ticketek (Christchurch).
Having already played to strong reviews in Brisbane and Seattle, The Barber of Seville is this year’s best opportunity to experience a full noise opera production. Don’t miss it.
Count Almaviva John Tessier
Rosina Sandra Piques Eddy
Figaro Morgan Pearse
Dr Bartolo Andrew Collis
Don Basilio Ashraf Sewailam
Berta Morag Aitchison
Fiorello/Officer James Harrison (Akl)
Fiorello/Officer Joel Amosa (Wgtn/Chc)
Ambrogio Jesse Wikiriwhi
Conductor Wyn Davies
Director Lindy Hume
Set and Costume Designer Tracy Grant Lord
Lighting Designer Matthew Marshall
Assistant Director Jacqueline Coats
ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre
June 6, 13 & 15 at 7.30pm
June 9 at 2.30pm
June 29 & July 4 at 7.30pm
July 2 at 6.30pm
July 6 at 5pm
Isaac Theatre Royal
August 1, 3 & 7 at 7.30pm
August 5 at 6.30pm
Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Christchurch Symphony Orchestra
Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus
Sung in Italian with English subtitles