“The Barber of Seville” makes its Costa Rican debut this weekend at the Melico Salazar Theater in downtown San José, for two shows only, tonight and tomorrow. The opera buffa, or comic opera, first performed in Rome in 1816, is regarded as the most famous work of Gioachino Rossini, who composed more than 30 operas in his lifetime.
Set in 17th-century Spain, the opera revolves around Count Almaviva and his many comical attempts to win the heart of the young beauty Rosina. Characters Bartolo and Basilio serve as barriers to Almaviva’s amorous attempts.
The opera is in Italian, and the 12 cast members hailing from Argentina, Guatemala, Bulgaria and Italy bring an international flair to the production under the direction of Italian musical director Bruno D’Astoli and Argentine scene director Juri Constantino.
Taking the stage as Figaro, the Barber of Seville, a former servant of the count who cleverly helps Almaviva win over Rosina, is Italian baritone Omar Camata. A graduate of Italy’s Vicenza Conservatory, Camata is familiar with the role of Figaro, having performed it numerous times in his native Italy.
Other singers in the international cast include tenor Carlos Ullán, bass-baritone Gustavo Gibert, baritone Sebastián Sorarrain, bass Alejandro Di Nardo and mezzosoprano Alicia María Cecotti from Argentina; soprano Ana Isabel Lazo, mezzo-soprano Ana Rosa Orozco and baritone César Arévalo from Guatemala; bass-baritone Virgilio Bianconi and tenor Enrico Iviglia from Italy; and Bulgarian bass Emil Zhelev.
Production director Carolina Fournier of Costa Rica has been working closely with the group of independent performers since it began its tour in Guatemala Jan. 5.
“We’ve had great success throughout Central America so far … with a bit less in Honduras,” Fournier admitted. “But I believe Costa Ricans like opera more … so I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got great talent and (the opera) is very entertaining.”
Since its Jan. 5 start, the group has performed in the capital cities of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.After just two performances in San José, the group will head south to perform in Panama City.
Performances at the Melico Salazar Theater are at 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow.
Ticket prices are ¢25,800 ($50) for the main level and ¢5,800 ($11) for gallery seating, and are available at the theater box office (257-6005) and at Hipermás supermarkets.