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Published11 May 2020

Week 3 of Digital Festival O features the broadcast premiere of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville

If you are still unable to get to the barber, Opera Philadelphia can at least bring a Barber to you! Week 3 of the company’s Digital Festival O features a broadcast of Rossini’s comic masterpiece The Barber of Seville, premiering on Friday, May 15, at 8:00 p.m. on YouTube and operaphila.org. Following Friday’s digital opening night, the 2014 production will stream on-demand through Monday, June 29.

Opera Philadelphia’s Digital Festival O is generously funded, in part, by the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation.

Created in collaboration with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Opera Philadelphia’s co-production of Rossini’s rapid-fire romp was a hit at the Academy of Music when it launched the company’s 40th anniversary season on Sept. 26, 2014. The HD recording made that evening drew nearly 5,000 people to Independence National Historical Park the following evening for the company’s fourth annual Opera on the Mall event. With its colorful sets and costumes, director Michael Shell’s production recalls the comic films of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, prompting the Philadelphia Inquirer to call it “one big lollipop for the eyes, … with Rossini’s music sounding fit and lively amid a cast of first-rate singers.”

This stellar cast features baritone Jonathan Beyer as Figaro, mezzo Jennifer Holloway in her company and role debuts as Rosina, tenor Taylor Stayton as Count Almaviva, bass Kevin Burdette as Dr. Bartolo, soprano Katrina Thurman as Berta, and bass-baritone Wayne Tigges as a scene-stealing Don Basilio, all under the baton of Jack Mulroney Music Director Corrado Rovaris.

The production remains a favorite among opera companies in across the country; Utah Opera was set to open five performances in March 2020, with Burdette reprising his role as Dr. Bartolo, prior to the Covid-19 shutdown. An April 28-May 3 run at San Diego Opera has been rescheduled to spring 2021, and Atlanta Opera is scheduled to stage the production in January 2021 with baritone Theo Hoffman, recently seen in Digital Festival O’s Denis & Katya, starring as Figaro. The production is also planned for a future season at Austin Opera.

On May 15 at 7:00 p.m., just before the digital premiere, bass Kevin Burdette, soprano Katrina Thurman, and Opera Philadelphia Chorusmaster Elizabeth Braden will join a pre-broadcast conversation on “The Show Before The Show” hosted by Opera Philadelphia’s Frank Luzi and Sarah Williams.

Hailed as “the ultimate bit of counter-programming” by OperaWire and “a virtual season of innovative opera” by Classical Music Magazine, Opera Philadelphia’s Digital Festival O also features the 2017 world premiere of We Shall Not be Moved by composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and director Bill T. Jones, now streaming through Aug. 31. Future digital premieres include Sky on Swings (May 22-Aug. 31), the 2018 opera by composer Lembit Beecher, librettist Hannah Moscovitch, and director Joanna Settle, and Breaking the Waves (May 29-Aug. 31), the 2016 world premiere by composer Missy Mazzoli, librettist Royce Vavrek, and director James Darrah.

About Opera Philadelphia

Opera Philadelphia, the only American finalist for both the 2016 International Opera Award for Best Opera Company and the 2020 International Opera Award for Best Festival, is “the very model of a modern opera company” (Washington Post). Committed to embracing innovation and developing opera for the 21st century, the company is “one of American opera’s success stories” (New York Times). For more information, visit operaphila.org.

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