You might not know the opera, but chances are you know the music, especially if you’ve seen this famous Bugs Bunny clip. Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville is one of the most popular comic operas in the repertoire, and the composer’s catchy tunes have worked their way into popular media once or twice (that first one is actually from another opera, William Tell). This opera is actually related to a much earlier work by Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro, both being adaptations of a French play and taking place at different points in the story (Rossini’s comes first, chronologically).
Houston Grand Opera Studio alumnus Peixin Chen is part of their latest production of The Barber of Seville playing the role of Dr. Bartolo, who is the story’s main adversary, though by no means a ruthless villain. It is a comedy, after all! The story is, like most operatic comedies, one of love and the amusing antics the characters go through the fulfill that desire for love. Talking about the production, Chen says “there’s lots of action, and comedy, and energy,” and of the costumes, “we look like Spanish cartoon characters on stage!”
Listen to my interview with Chen above to learn more about the opera, his experiences as a singer, and why he passed on his dream role when it was offered to him.
The Barber of Seville runs at Houston Grand Opera Saturday, February 3rd; Thursday, February 8th; and Saturday, February 10th, all at 7:30 PM at the Resilience Theater in the George R. Brown Convention Center.