“The Barber of Seville” is the fifth annual community opera presented by the Santa Fe Concert Association. Free performances of the famous work by Gioachino Rossini take place next weekend in the Scottish Rite Center.
Geared for families, the opera has been reduced to one hour in length so children and adults of all ages can enjoy this English-sung production.
Mezzo-soprano Katherine Tombaugh, who was an apprentice with the Santa Fe Opera last summer and covered the roles of Flora in Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” and Amelie in Jacque Offenbach’s “The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein,” stars as the young, rich pupil Rosina. It’s a role with which she identifies.
“Rosina is spunky, and so am I,” said Tombaugh. “I’m spunky and independent. Rossini wrote roles for mezzo-sopranos that have character. He doesn’t make us whiny, and I like that.”
“The Barber of Seville” is a comic opera about a matchmaking barber and features misadventures and mistaken identities. The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais’ French comedy “Le Barnier de Seville” (1775). The premiere of Rossini’s opera took place in 1816 in Rome.
“I’m going to enjoy singing it in English,” said Tombaugh. “From past experience I know that singing the opera in English will change how I sing it in Italian the next time I do it.”
Tombaugh, who also has sung with the Utah Opera, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Opera Omaha, isn’t the only professional singer in the production.
Tenor Javier Abreu, who sang last season with the Nashville Opera, Opera Santa Barbara and the Phoenix Symphony, and bass baritone Rod Nelman, who has performed leading roles with many opera companies including the Washington National Opera, Long Beach Opera, Florida Grand Opera and New York City Opera, are among a small group of seasoned singers appearing on stage. Baritone Steven Eddy, bass Anthony Reed and mezzo-soprano Meaghan Deiter also are featured in the production.
One of the reasons that Tombaugh enjoys being part of performances designed for the community is that while she grew up in a musical family, she wasn’t exposed to opera at an early age. She wants young people to have access to this art form in a way she did not.
“I started getting into opera in 2007 and was in my first production in 2008,” she explained. “Before then, I only did church singing jobs. I was fortunate to be accepted as an apprentice at the Santa Fe Opera in 2011. That’s when I met Joe Illick (artistic director of the Santa Fe Concert Association). He was willing to give me a chance when he asked me to be part of the annual free community opera three years ago. I’m so happy to come back to Santa Fe in January for the third time to be part of ‘The Barber of Seville.'”