The Barber of Seville, Helmed by Tony Winner Rob Ashford, to Play Lyric Opera of Chicago; Nathan Gunn Stars

By Carey Purcell
January 3, 2014

Tony winner Rob Ashford will make his operatic directing debut with The Barber of Seville at Lyric Opera of Chicago, with performances beginning Feb. 1 and continuing through Feb. 28.



The production, which also marks Ashford's debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, will feature Nathan Gunn, Alek Shrader, Isabel Leonard, Alessandro Corbelli and Kyle Ketelsen. Michele Mariotti will conduct.

Here's how the production is billed: "Based on the first of a series of uproarious comic plays by Beaumarchais, the eponymous barber Figaro (baritone Nathan Gunn) is the ultimate fixer, running around solving everyone's problems — and boasting about it in the famous 'Largo al factotum' aria, 'Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!' He involves himself in a love triangle, helping Count Almaviva (tenor Alek Shrader) woo and win the beautiful Rosina (mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, debut) away from her old lecherous guardian Dr. Bartolo (baritone Alessandro Corbelli), who keeps her under lock and key. All hell breaks loose not once but twice — first, when Almaviva disguises himself as a drunken soldier, and then when he presents himself as a replacement for Rosina's supposedly indisposed music master, Don Basilio (bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen). Of course, with Figaro's invaluable assistance, all eventually ends happily for Almaviva and his beloved Rosina."

"Directing a Rossini comedy is extraordinarily difficult because the production needs to remain true to its commedia dell'arte roots, while at the same time having a kind of zany, off-the-wall comic skill," general director Anthony Freud said in a statement. "I've seen several of Rob Ashford's productions on Broadway and elsewhere, which confirmed for me that he is exactly the right director to take on this piece."

Seven-time Tony nominee Ashford received a Tony Award for choreographing Thoroughly Modern Millie. His stage work also includes Curtains; Promises, Promises; Evita; The Wedding Singer; and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

The Barber of Seville will feature sets designed by Scott Pask, costumes by five-time Tony winner Catherine Zuber and lighting design by Howard Harrison. The chorus master is Michael Black.

Tickets and more information are available by calling (312) 827-5600 or visiting http://lyricopera.org.