Meet The Man with the Vision For Rossini to Appear in his own Barber of Seville

Michael Kotze, Stage Director, sat down with Executive Director, Susan Baushke to discuss his vision for Petite Opera's upcoming
"Barber of Seville"
.

How many times have you directed "Barber of Seville"? How have the productions been different each time?
Mike:  
I've directed it four times: in Italian, in English, and as a shortened adaptation for young audiences. Each time, I’ve had to approach the piece from a lot of different angles, knowing what the audience's expectations will be. I find this work always gives you something to do, in terms of adapting it to meet the needs of a particular audience. It never dictates being done just one way--which is what makes it so much fun to return to again and again--because you are never doing the same show. Frankly, though, despite all of the adaptations and translations I’ve been involved in, the thing that really makes the show, and distinguishes each production, is the cast. These roles are such a gift to singers with personality. The characters really allow the performer’s personalities to shine through. There are as many personalities as there are singers. Its always fun to see the chemical reactions when you mix different casts together.
Bartolo (Eric McConnell, seated, center) fumes at the situation, while Count Almaviva (Brett Potts, left),
Rosina (Liana Gineits, center), and Figaro (Gabriel DiGennaro, right) try to calm him down.
  I've had Bartolos who are absolute clowns, and some that are very dignified; both ways work and create a different situation for the others in the cast to bounce off of. Likewise, with the Count, and Rosina... each interpretation creates so many different great combinations.
     It has been very fun to work with our double cast and have both sets of performers in the room, mixing and matching. It is quite enlightening for me to see something I've given them to do from two different angles, and then bring into focus what works best. I wouldn't get that if I just put that coat on one person and saw it one way the whole time. This way, I get to see situations put on different people and see it react differently. For a director, that's stimulating.

What do you think of the dialogue you created for Petite Opera's adaptation?
It challenging to work the dialogue so it is short, snappy and energized enough to keep the room engaged when no one is singing. I’ve tried to keep the dialogue as concise as possible, getting out the plot points, even those that are convoluted, and challenging to make concise. It needs to be short, fast and funny in order to keep the energy level up.  The last thing we want is for people to lose steam during the dialogues.

I’ve been interviewing the cast, and asking about what impact switching the recitatives with dialogue has, and most are saying it makes it much more approachable.  Is it living up to what you envisioned?
Now that I’ve seen it, I’m really liking it. I told the cast that we were building this from scratch, and wasn’t sure of what to expect. What I like about it is that it is very direct.  Having to communicate the piece in our language—English—and sometimes not even using the full trappings of opera—like recitative—means we have to be very direct and know what we’re talking about.
     It is easy to paper over many things when singing in a foreign language, or keep things very obscure, and the audience generally won’t notice. But when we sing it in English, and put the plot forward with dialogue between the musical numbers, we must be really clear and spell it all out, otherwise, even a child in the audience will know something is wrong. It's about storytelling. Oftentimes in opera, storytelling gets forgotten because there is enough going on with the music, decor, costumes, etc., that sometimes the story goes out the window. In this version, we are putting the story front and center.

So have any new relationship angles developed out of these characters as a result of adding in Rossini as a character, and switching recitatives to dialogue?
The main thing that becomes much more clear is Rosina’s sense of desolation and feeling of betrayal by the Count. In the opera, it is dealt with in recitative in the opera, never given its own aria to expound upon that. In many productions it gets swept under the rug.  Here we had to craft a dialogue which gets that all there in front of the audience. By putting that plainly and clearly in dialogue, it sets the darkest moment in the opera, and gives it more relief. The only time I’ve gotten that sense of Rosina’s betrayal previously is when I saw the original Beaumarchais play upon which the opera is based.
     The addition of Rossini -- not only does it hep with getting out some of the exposition cleanly, it allows us to inject even more humor into the piece. Rossini is a bit of a wisecracker. Having him there to host the party keeps everything bubbling along rather nicely.
Members of the double-cast Barber of Seville, promoting the show at Oberweiss Dairy in Park Ridge
(from L.) Liana Gineitis, Gabriel DiGennaro, Edward Kuffert, Kaitlin Galetti, Brett Potts, Eric McConnell, Max Hosmer
This is your first time working with Petite Opera. What do you think about the company?
What initially struck me was the incredibly high quality of the singing. We have two casts of Barber of Seville and everyone is wonderful. It is a pleasure to hear these people sing; there isn’t a bad one in the bunch. That is a luxury.
     I like that the primary focus of the company is to make these pieces speak to the audience directly, through the translation, and the intimacy of the room. It's great and a wonderful way to experience these pieces and get to know them. This is not about dumbing it down; it is about making sure we are communicating to newcomers. In many artistic ventures, it is easy to go off on tangents, and see the forest and not the trees. The focus of Petite Opera is very much on communication and storytelling. It is just good discipline for me to keep focused on the heart of it all: the story.

To someone new to opera, never seen Barber before, why should they come see this production?
It combines two wonderful things: Humor and Athleticism. First, there are many laughs. Secondly, it brings you up close to the athleticism of singing. This music is very difficult. As they say in the movie Amadeus, “there are a lot of notes”. It really is like watching great athletes as these singers negotiate this music. This music requires really terrific technique and control. Just listening to it on a recording doesn't really given you the sense. When you are in the same room, breathing the same air as these performers, you really appreciate what they are doing, and how amazing this type of singing is. Add to that a funny story, and you have a great evening!

Any closing insights?
I love the energy of this music, and the way it just throws one wonderful idea after another at you. It is hard to keep up with it. The production is so prodigal in its invention, and such a delight, rather like seeing the insides of some complicated watch or machine and seeing all of the gears and spokes all working together.  It has a mad energy, and I love it!

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Purchase tickets via credit card at www.petiteopera.tix.com
For reservations, call 847-553-4442 or email us at tickets@petiteopera.org



Tickets now on sale for Petite Opera BARBER OF SEVILLE

Tickets now on sale for Petite Opera BARBER OF SEVILLE

Rossini (Edward Kuffert, left) and Figaro (Gabriel DiGennaro, right)
prepare to accept a new customer for a shave,
as they talk up Petite Opera's Barber of Seville
November 4-19, 2017 in Park Ridge.

Tickets are now on sale for Petite Opera's November 4-19, 2017 production of Barber of Seville.  Don't miss this comic must-see production, translated into English so comedy prevails!

This new production, featuring the ever-loving Figaro, exchanges the traditional recitatives with comic dialogue, and adds a new twist: the composer, Giaochino Rossini, is a new character in the show. He inserts himself into the production and acts as a type of MC to add color commentary, introducing the scenes and characters to the audience. Not to be missed!

Buy your tickets online via credit card at www.petiteopera.tix.com, or place a reservation for cash or check payment: Phone 847.553.4442 or Email tickets@petiteopera.org.  We'll see you at the show!

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Tickets are $27 for Adults (ages 18-61)

$25 for Seniors (age 62 and up)
$15 for Students (K through College, with ID)
$5 for Children ages 5 and under

To reserve your tickets for payment by cash or check at Box Office on performance date:
Call 847-553-4442 or email tickets@petiteopera.org

For credit card orders, visit our http://petiteopera.tix.com.  
Please note: reservations and Credit Card orders accepted up to 4 hours prior to show time.  

A convenience fee is applied to all credit card orders at checkout.

LOCATION:
Mary Wilson House Beyer Auditorium
part of St. Mary's Episcopal church campus
306 S Prospect Avenue (at Crescent Ave)
Park Ridge, IL 60068


Petite Opera Takes the Cast of Barber Of Seville Around Town

Join members of Petite Opera's double-cast production as
they introduce
Barber of Seville to today's audiences.




They dance, they check out the incredible dates (21st century!) on wine bottles, they eat ice cream, and help Figaro and Rossini recruit the man on the street for a shave by the "guest barber" in town - Figaro, the Barber of Seville.

Performances run November 4-19, 2017.
Purchase tickets via credit card online at www.petiteopera.tix.com.
For ticket reservations (check or cash payment), call 847-553-4442 or email tickets@petiteopera.org.


Petite Opera announces cast for BARBER OF SEVILLE

November 4-5, 10-12, 17-19, 2017

Petite Opera announces the cast of its upcoming Barber of Seville, running November 4-19, 2017. This new, unique version of the production is performed in English, and features Giaochino Rossini in the role of M.C. and puppet master as he brings his production to life. Not to be missed!
Hold the dates now!

                                         CAST


Giaochino Rossini:
Edward Kuffert
Rosina: Kaitlin Galetti,
Liana Gineitis
Count Almaviva: Max Hosmer,
Brett Potts
Figaro: Johnny Boehlefeld,
Gabriel diGennaro
Bartolo: Eric McConnell,
Ivo Suarez
Basilio: Jess Koehn
Berta: Emily Cox


ARTISTIC TEAM

Stage Director:  Michael Kotze
Music Director:  Cody Michael Bradley
Director of Production:  Steven Arvanites
Stage Manager:  Nicole Verive
Costume Designer:  Sienna Kusek
Lighting Designer:  Betsy Sklena


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Tickets are $27 for Adults (ages 18-61)

$25 for Seniors (age 62 and up)
$15 for Students (K through College, with ID)
$5 for Children ages 5 and under

To reserve your tickets for payment by cash or check at Box Office on performance date:
Call 847-553-4442 or email tickets@petiteopera.org

For credit card orders, visit our http://petiteopera.tix.com.  
Please note: reservations and Credit Card orders accepted up to 4 hours prior to show time.  
A convenience fee is applied to all credit card orders at checkout.

LOCATION:
Mary Wilson House Beyer Auditorium
part of St. Mary's Episcopal church campus
306 S Prospect Avenue (at Crescent Ave)
Park Ridge, IL 60068

Petite Opera's ASSASSINS takes aim at the American Dream Nov 4-20

Somewhere in time, nine U.S. Presidential assassins and attempted assassins--each from a different point in history--cross boundaries of time and space to arrive at a carnival, managed by the Proprietor, the deux ex machina of their darker personaes.  The Proprietor sees their motivations, pulls the strings, manipulating them to commit the assassination they only contemplated before that point. Here, each assassin has the ability to influence the other.  Here, each assassin can tell his or her personal story.
Petite Opera presents this tour de force musical Nov 4-20:
https://www.facebook.com/events/676709165827275/


The collective consciousness of America is personified by The Balladeer, who tells the perspective of the nation... how each was viewed, how these individuals must have been insane to harbor such fantastical thoughts that assassination would somehow have the desired impact they sought.
Meanwhile, the assassins tell their stories.  To hear them explain it... the goal which each assassination was to accomplish would fulfill  their personal American dream: to make physical pain disappear, to gain relevance, to justify his/her own abilities, to further personal promotion or achieve some larger political gain. Each convinced themselves that only assassination of an American President could allow that to occur.

This tour de force musical looks how we define ourselves as individuals, as a nation, and the interpretation of the American Dream, even during his worst hours.
The Assassins try to regain their relevance through
Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination of John R. Kennedy
 
Petite Opera presents Assassins
Fridays November 4, 11, 18 at 7:30 PM
Saturdays, November 5, 12, 19 at 7:30 PM
Sundays, November 6, 13, 20 at 4:00 PM

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Tickets are $27 for Adults (ages 18-61)
$25 for Seniors (age 62 and up)
$15 for Students* (age 16 through College)
* not recommended for ages under 16 due to content and language

Call 847-553-4442 or email tickets@petiteopera.org to reserve your tickets for payment by cash or check at Box Office on performance date. For credit card orders, visit our PURCHASE TICKETS page.  Please note: reservations and Credit Card orders accepted up to 4 hours prior to show time.  A convenience fee is applied to all credit card orders at checkout.

LOCATION:
Mary Wilson House Beyer Auditorium
part of St. Mary's Episcopal church campus
306 S Prospect Avenue (at Crescent Ave)
Park Ridge, IL

Petite Opera Presents Stephen Sondheim's ASSASSINS Nov 4-20, 2016

Delve into the darker side of politics


November 4-20
Our nation's most notorious assassins gather on stage in Park Ridge to violently pursue a twisted American Dream. 


A multiple Tony Award-winning theatrical tour-de-force, Assassins combines Sondheim's signature blend of intelligently stunning lyrics and beautiful music with a panoramic story of our nation's culture of celebrity and the violent means some will use to obtain it. Embodied by four successful and five would-be American presidential assassins, this bold, original, disturbing, and alarmingly funny work is perhaps the most controversial musical ever written.

Petite Opera, with its focus on classically trained voices, has gathered an incredible cast to voice the hopes, fears and furies of these intriguing figures by exposing the twisted thoughts that brought them to acts of violence.
Petite Opera presents Assassins: 
Fridays November 4, 11, 18 at 7:30 PM
Saturdays, November 5, 12, 19 at 7:30 PM
Sundays, November 6, 13, 20 at 4:00 PM

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Tickets are $27 for Adults (ages 18-61)
$25 for Seniors (age 62 and up)
$15 for Students* (age 16 through College)
* not recommended for ages under 16 due to content and language

Call 847-553-4442 or email tickets@petiteopera.org to reserve your tickets for payment by cash or check at Box Office on performance date. For credit card orders, visit our 
PURCHASE TICKETS page.  Please note: reservations and Credit Card orders accepted up to 4 hours prior to show time.  A convenience fee is applied to all credit card orders at checkout.

LOCATION:
Mary Wilson House Beyer Auditorium
part of St. Mary's Episcopal church campus
306 S Prospect Avenue (at Crescent Ave)
Park Ridge, IL

Patrons think Petite Opera's Sci-Fi "Magic Flute 3.0" is out of this world!


Catch the Aliens before they leave Park Ridge!

Petite Opera's
The Magic Flute 3.0 - A Space Opera  

The Queen of the Night enters via transporter beam
Only 3 performances left: Nov 20-22, 2015 

Petite Opera's new world premiere English translation and Science Fiction adaptation is a hit with Earthling audiences!
Starting with the overture (a back story to the aliens landing on Earth), audiences loved this new translation and all of its' fun cultural references.
Sci-Fi, aliens, Mozart, the North Woods and the CIA combine in this world premiere of a new Petite Opera English translation.  Sarastro and his alien community from Vekran are out in the galaxy promoting their cause.  They land on Earth to find Sarastro's exiled Rimulan wife, the Queen of the Night and her Borg-like Ladies trying to assimilate into North Woods USA, near Canada. Entitled trust-fund guy, Tamino, seeks to unite with the pair's daughter, Pamina.  Aided by simple hunter--Papageno--and Free Spirits from the intergalactic police force, they seek to find their loves, their balance, and escape evil.





"We saw Petite Opera's "Magic Flute 3.0 - A Space Opera" opening night, and it was fantastic!!!  We highly recommend everyone check it out.  The place was near capacity so I would suggest you get your tickets for the day you want to go as soon as possible!" --Don Popp






"It was just so fun!  With Star Wars coming back in a few months, this was a great way for me to get my fix of sci-fi and see an opera at the same time!"
--A New Patron

 




"Saw the production last night! Bravo! and Brava! Huge cast with huge talent. Thoroughly enjoyable evening. Costumes in this production are wonderful (is it wrong I want that silver jacket?) Hope you sell out every show!" --Roberta Meyer



"This production, with the Sci-Fi theme was really fun!  I'm sure I didn't catch all of the jokes, but my husband is a big Star Trek fan, and he got all of them!  The whole cast had tremendous voices."
--Sally Dornfeld


Don't miss it!  There are only three performances remaining!
FRIDAY November 20, 2015 at 7:30 PM
SATURDAY November 21, 2015 at 7:30 PM
SUNDAY November 22, 2015 at 4:00 PM  

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Tickets are $27 for Adults (ages 18-61), $25 for Seniors (age 62 and up), 
 $15 for Students (K-college), and $5 for Preschool Children
Call 847-553-4442 or email us at tickets@petiteopera.org to reserve your tickets for payment by cash or check at Box Office on performance date.
For credit card orders, visit our PURCHASE TICKETS page.

Please note: Reservations and Credit card orders accepted up to 4 hours prior to show time. A convenience fee is applied to all credit card orders at checkout.

LOCATION:
Mary Wilson House Beyer Auditorium
part of St. Mary's Episcopal church campus
306 S Prospect Avenue at Crescent Avenue 
Park Ridge, IL