Rossini Maid Me Do It - Berta's Backstairs Love Affair with Rossini

With only two performances (November 18 and 19) remaining of Petite Opera's production of Barber of SevilleEmily Cox, who plays Berta in the production discussed her take on the character of Berta, Berta's love affair with Rossini in this particular production, and working with Petite Opera.

Emily Cox, who portrays Berta in Petite Opera's Barber of Seville
What do you like about the character of Berta:
I love that in this interpretation she is not an old maid or a drunk, which is how it is played every time I see it. She is really stalwart loyal woman who believes she is doing the right thing by standing by Doctor Bartolo.

Berta (Emily Cox) tries to calm Doctor Bartolo (Ivo Suarez)
Does it bother Berta that Doctor Bartolo keeps asking her to pick up and move the household at a moment’s notice to escape Count Almaviva?
No. She is loyal to a fault. I like that she is a middle-aged woman that is not happy where she’s at, but not sure how to get un-stuck. In our version, Rossini guides her along, and she gets a happy ending too.

What about her appeals and speaks to the audience?
She is very relatable. At every point in a person’s life you put your trust in someone with whom you should not have. We all find out a little too late that we have helped the wrong person. Berta really believes that Doctor Bartolo wanted to marry Rosina and take of her, and she has just started to realize that Bartolo is really all about the money.

What does Berta think about this Count Almaviva business? When does she suspect
Berta (Emily Cox, right) noses her way into
Rosina's (Liana Gineitis, left) business
something?
She starts to suspect when he comes to the house in disguise as the piano teacher. By the time we meet Almaviva disguised as a drunken soldier, she is absolutely in the know. She is a lot smarter than anyone thinks. Spending that much time watching Rosina, of course she would totally know what was happening.

What does Berta think of Figaro?
Berta doesn’t like him at all. He represents everything she doesn’t like in a man — self-righteous, fast-talking, self-serving. Part of the reason she remains so faithful to Bartolo is because she uses Figaro as a direct foil.

How are you distinguishing your Berta of early 1800s from the woman you are in the 21st century?
In 2017, I move with my pelvis; to dive back into the 1800s, I must slow my gestures, stand up straighter, and take more time and consideration in the things I do.

How old are you playing her?
I’m playing her in her 30’s, which then, unfortunately, would have been termed “an old-maid”. 

What do you think about this version (dialogue vs. recitative)?
I love it. It streamlines the entire story, and makes the characters more believable but removes some element of reality. We’re all characters in a storybook… it’s more believable both from the perspective of action and reaction.  We must be careful with Rossini doesn’t come across campy; but I believe we have just the right balance of humor and suspension of disbelief to actually make it believable. 

Tell me about Berta’s relationship with Rossini in this adaptation?
Berta (Emily Cox) takes a rare opportunity to seduce
Rossini (Edward Kuffert), the composer,
who creates the production before the eyes of the audience.
I feel she embodies the entire household. She can feel something isn’t quite right as soon as Rossini enters the scene as the omniscient figure. Berta warms to Rossini because he shows genuine affection, even for the flawed characters, such as Berta herself. She and Rossini are the same in their values in that they see the best in everyone. Rossini genuinely treasures Berta; I don’t think she’s ever had that from anyone before. And of course, the love affair is quite unexpected!

What do you think about working Petite Opera?
I love it… I’ve been tracking the company on social media. I intentionally audition for companies and directors that produce high-quality productions in which I am interested and value. If I want to write my own show, I can. If I work from someone, I do so. That’s why came to Petite Opera. 
I loved their Assassins, the fact that we were an opera company that understands the crossover potential. 

How did you become familiar with Petite Opera?
I knew about the Magic Flute auditions a few years ago, and had friends who were in the cast. I saw it, and loved it. Then, I auditioned for Petite Opera’s production of Assassins, which was such a great process and experience. I love the productions they select, the production value they create, and the performers and artistic staff they are attracting and working with.

How would you describe this opera, concisely, to someone who has never seen it?  In short, why should they come see Petite Opera’s production?
Guy meets girl; guy wants girl, but girl is being held captive by old guy who wants girls’ money.
Guy hires known varmint to come and steal her away. Mischief and mayhem ensues and in the end, most end up happy. Oh, and by the way, the composer himself is in it.  Another reason: Come see the show, and see me play with a 15-foot boa!

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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

Rumor Has It That Don Basilio Enjoys Petite Opera's "Barber of Seville"

Jess Koehn, Don Basilio in Petite Opera's production of "Barber of Seville", discusses his character and thoughts on the opera with Executive Director, Susan Baushke.

Jess Koehn plays Don Basilio in
Petite Opera's Barber of Seville
November 4-19
Tell me what you like about the character of Basilio?
What’s not to like? He’s a music teacher. It is fun to do a caricature of someone all artists are familiar with, and create a composite of them all formed into one being. He’s so nefarious, without being truly evil. Basilio loves to gossip and slander, but he can be bought. He’s not above ruining lives as long as the price is right. This character is fun to play because he is so different from me.

What do you think about this updated production without recitatives (replaced by dialogue)?
It has been much easier to learn. This version will appeal to modern audiences much more than with recitative. Opera goers in Rossini’s time were expected to be really familiar with the opera before they arrived, which is not the case today with audiences. Taking out the recitative makes it much easier to relate to the audience. It’s fun to change it up, give it a new spin and come at it from a different perspective.

Tell me about Basilio’s interpretations of his relationship with the other characters in the opera? For instance, what does he think of Bartolo?
Basilio is a hired gun. He’s Rosina’s music teacher, but he’ll work for anyone as long as the price is right. He knows Bartolo and Rosina, but doesn’t know Count Almaviva at all. So, he sells his services to the highest bidder, and his allegiance shifts to whomever has the biggest purse.

Don Basilio (Jess Koehn, right) describes to
Doctor Bartolo (Ivo Suarez, left) how to assassinate
Almaviva's character through lies and slander
How would you compare and contrast Figaro and Basilio?
Figaro is a freelancer, but he’s more noble in his behavior; he has more scruples. Basilio enjoys ruining people, loves to gossip. He likes to see people squirm.

How are you portraying Basilio differently to achieve the setting in the early 1800s period versus 2017?
Basilio has a certain deference to Bartolo, and to the Count… deference to the class difference that we pretend doesn’t exist today. We have the division, of course, today. But then, class distinctions were recognized and respected then. Basilio’s love of gossip and rumor mongering is certainly found equally today as it was in the 17th century. But there was definitely a place for that type of gossip in the 17th century, that is not politically correct today. Plus, our communication is so much quicker today; in the 17th century, the gossip was the fastest moving communication.

Basilio is a professional musician and teacher, so he’s middle class, not a laborer or pauper. He associates with the nobility and the education of the nobility, but he isn’t accepted as nobility or on equal level. Perhaps his way of level setting is bringing down the nobility by rumor-mongering. It this way of growing his stature and self-respect.

What do you think about working for Petite Opera?
Don Basilio describes the shame that will come to Almaviva,
while Doctor Bartolo cowers at Basilio's intensity.
It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve worked very quickly, on the show was on its feet in the third week of rehearsal, which is amazing. It is a ton of fun to be doing opera. I’ve been doing so much work as a chorister since coming to Chicago, it is great to be working at high level with professionals.

How would you describe this opera, concisely, to someone who has never seen it, why should they come see Petite Opera’s production?
This is really fun modernization of a classic by Rossini, one of the great opera composers of the 17th century. It’s in English, and so more accessible. The composer is actually a character in the opera, and he builds the opera before you eyes. You see the imagination of his creative process. Petite Opera is, by its very name, a smaller company, but it is very dynamic. The people are wonderful and engaging. And the story is timeless romantic comedy.

If you could go to dinner with any character in the show, as yourself, who would it be and why?
Figaro, definitely. He’s a barber... barbers dispensed medicine, did surgery, cut hair. He’s quick and thinks on his feet. He’s a fascinating, knowledgeable jack of all trades. He’s the title character. He would be fun to hang out with.

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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 847-553-442 or email tickets@petiteopera.org
For credit card orders, visit 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 Auditorium
306 S Prospect Avenue (at Crescent Avenue)
Park Ridge, IL 60068

Opening weekend audiences are raving about Petite Opera's "Barber of Seville"

The composer, Rossini, drops his baton on opening night of Barber of Seville.


"This production was so funny, and I laughed so hard, I almost wet myself!"

"Adding Rossini as the narrator really made it fun."

 "This production really zips along and is very entertaining."

"The Act 1 finale is a real zinger, even minus the chorus."

"When I heard Petite Opera was doing this production in English and adding the character of Rossini, I was skeptical, but it totally worked and I absolutely loved it!"

"This approach was amazingly accessible to opera newcomers and great for opera veterans."

"Petite Opera's production is a refreshing take on a known story."

"The stage direction, backdrop, and diction was great, and the intimate space was the perfect setting for this production."


Rossini (Edward Kuffert) sets up the scene as the
 irresistible force--Rosina (Liana Gineitis) and
the immovable object--Doctor Bartolo (Ivo Suarez) square off

Don't miss your chance to share in the fun!
6 more performances:

FRI Nov 10 at 7:30 PM
SAT Nov 11 at 7:30 PM
SUN Nov 12 at 4:00 PM
FRI Nov 17 at 7:30 PM
SAT Nov 18 at 7:30 PM
SUN Nov 19 at 4:00 PM


For tickets, call 847.553.4442 or order online at http://www.petiteopera.tix.com.

Meet the Strong Female Sopranos that Enliven Petite Opera's Barber of Seville

Petite Opera speaks with Kaitlin Galetti and Liana Gineitis who portray the strong, independent Rosina.

As Petite Opera rehearses, Executive Director Susan Baushke, sat down with the company’s two talented performers playing Rosina in its upcoming Barber of Seville, playing November 4-19, 2017, to ask them about their upcoming role.

Kaitlin Galetti portrays Rosina
November 5, 10, 12, 18
What do you like about the character of Rosina in this work, and this production in particular?
Kaitlin:  
Rosina is all about “smashing the patriarchy”.  She is a strong feminine character for the time period.  It’s also great to play at a “Lady” mezzo role for a change!

Liana Gineitis portrays Rosina
Nov 4, 11, 17, 19
Liana:  
Rosina is confident, headstrong, knows what she wants, and goes after it.  Its refreshing, especially for the time frame (early 1800s). She’s three-dimensional, fun and funny.  What’s not to like?


What is your impression of Petite Opera and this production so far?
Liana:  
The company appears very relaxed and friendly, supportive and inviting.
Kaitlin: 
Communication has been extremely easy, and is very clear.  The entire environment is one where I feel very secure to take artistic ownership.  The culture and people are very open and inviting, and encourage me to see what I can do and bring to the role and the production. I also found it incredible that the audition panelists made a point of shaking our hands and introducing themselves before we sang. They understand what it is like to be on “both sides of the audition table”, and I greatly appreciate it!

Petite Opera and Stage Director Michael Kotze extracted the recitative from this version, and replaced those sections with dialogue featuring a new character—the composer himself—Rossini.  What is your impression of the adaptation and its impact on you as performers, and the potential impact on the audience?
Liana:  
Taking out the recitative and turning it into dialogue, especially for a comedy, makes the whole production more accessible for the audience.  It helps expose people to the opera, and lets them research it further, if desired.  Patrons can definitely connect to Rossini and can easily follow the plot.

Kaitlin: 
Using this revised format helps us invite patrons into the action, to meet them as some level and make their own decisions about the creative process of the opera and its characters.  I like it.

Petite Opera rehearses and performs in Park Ridge.  Tell us about the experience of performing in the suburbs vs. downtown.
Liana Gineitis (right) promotes the show around town
with fellow cast members Max Hosmer (left)
and Gabriel DiGennaro (center).
Liana:  
I must admit that, having just received my Master’s in Voice from Northwestern, I have only performed in the suburbs thus far, so don’t have a point of reference.  However, I think its great to branch out and perform across the Chicago area and its suburbs to reach audiences.

Kaitlin: 
I’ve lived in Chicago for 2 years now, and performed in Chicago and the suburbs. I find the suburbs very inviting, with appreciate audiences.  In some ways, suburban audiences give us permission to try newer things and give more leeway to interpret and put out own stamp on characters that have been performed for over 100 years!  

Kaitlin Galetti (right) confers with fellow cast
members Brett Potts (left) and Gabriel DiGennaro (center)
while promoting the show at
Park Ridge's Wine Styles shop.
The two of you have been in Chicago for a while.  Have you had the opportunity previously to work with other cast members that appear in this Barber of Seville production?
Liana:  
I have not worked with anyone in the production previously, but will be performing Rusalka with Brett Potts during October; he is one of our two Count Almaviva’s in this production.

Kaitlin: 
I recently just performed in Johnny Johnson with Gabriel DiGennaro, so I look forward to working with him again as one of our two Figaros.

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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

Dueling Barbers - A conversation with Petite Opera's two Figaros

The Shavers Most In Favor--Johnny Boehlefeld and Gabriel DiGennaro-- discuss the role of Figaro in Petite Opera's
Barber of Seville Nov 4-19

Petite Opera’s Executive Director, Susan Baushke, sat down with the performers double-cast as Barber of Seville’s lllustrious character Figaro: Gabriel DiGennaro and Johnny Boehlefeld.  Both performers discussed their take on the character of Figaro, the uniqueness of this particular production and working with Petite Opera.


Gabriel DiGennaro
portrays Figaro
Nov 4, 11, 17, 19
What do you like about the character of Figaro?
Gabriel:
What really appeals to me about Figaro is his ability to stay optimistic and go with the flow.  He rarely ever appears defeated, or even appears to feel defeat.  While he is attracted to money and that lifestyle,  in the end, whatever he ends up with he will embrace and enjoy.  I think its a very healthy, sustainable, way to live!  He does a little of everything, similar to a modern, self-employed, freelancer, which mirror the life of today’s artist.  Even though employment could be temporary, he never lets that get to him.

Johnny:
Figaro has a lot of energy and he is always trying to be one step ahead. Those are the most endearing things about the character.  

What appeals to the audience about Figaro?
Johnny Boehlefeld
portrays Figaro
Nov 5, 10, 12, 18
Johnny:  
He appeals because he is guiding the story and he is their avenue into the story. He is outside of the romance, he invites the audience to look at it from his point of view.

What does Figaro think of the Count and the whole plot he enrolls Figaro in?
Gabriel
He is driven by money to enter the story.  But as the opera proceeds, the Count often throws things at him, requiring Figaro to fix them.  The Count is goofy, love-struck and distracted. Figaro can tolerate those challenging aspects of the situation because the money is good.  I would equate it to taking some rather unsavory gigs as a performer in today’s world—perhaps where the piano is out of tune, the music selection is ho-hum, but we can deal with it.  I would say there is no ill will on Figaro’s part in having to handle these things; he and the Count are of a similar age and different rank, but Figaro doesn’t take that as a barrier. Figaro sees no barriers with anything. 

Johnny
Figaro thinks the Count is a bit dense, a clod and a whiner, but he is sincere in seeking Rosina. He thinks that Rosina needs someone her own age to marry, not Bartolo. Bartolo needs to get over himself, so Figaro’s involvement is welcome to all, and he enjoys it.

What does Figaro think of Bartolo, Rosina and the whole circumstance?
Gabriel:  
Gabriel DiGennaro, portraying Figaro,
inviting patrons around town to Barber of Seville
at Park Ridge Wine Styles.
As a servant, he doesn’t like being told what to do, so he can relate to Rosina’s situation where she is stuck into something she doesn’t want.  He is motivated to help Rosina out of her situation, and help the Count, so his involvement is a win-win.

Johnny
Figaro thinks Bartolo is a foolish old man and Rosina seems like a sweet, nice girl, who is always polite.  He thinks the idea of Bartolo marrying Rosina is ridiculous, but he’s seen it happen so many times before. It isn’t a surprise; so he comes in, does his work, rolls his eyes and moves on.  He is aware, but not engaged in the situation until the Count employs him to help win Rosina.  Let’s just say that resolving the situation is not on Figaro’s radar until the beginning of the opera when he’s employed to help.

What has Figaro’s relationship been with Bartolo?
Gabriel
He shaves Bartolo, pulls his teeth, but wouldn’t prefer to grab a beer with him.  But he’ll happy take the money Bartolo pays him.  He enjoys interacting with Rosina, as a kindred spirit. Figaro is an eternal optimist.

Johnny:  
He’s a paid employee.  For the most part, he does his work, and leaves.  Bartolo has not endeared himself to Figaro to engage in anything beyond his traditional duties.

How are you distinguishing “Figaro, the optimist” as you would play him in 2017, versus of the character portrayal of the early 1800’s, required for this production?
Gabriel
When emotions are boiled down to their purist form, they ring true no matter time period.  Happiness, anxiety, and fear, are timeless.  The oppressive situation/force working against you—well, that changes. Today, the oppressive force could be managing your identity on social media; in the early 1800’s, it was the unbreakable social hierarchy.  Either way, there are external forces the characters deal with outside of themselves. Because of the differences in the times, mannerisms are different between the two time periods. Language differences are addressed with our translations. But emotions and attitudes like optimism, freedom and ultimately love, they are not “trendy”… they’re universal.

Johnny
The physicality is different in our time, more relaxed and informal.  Figaro would be more indignant now than he appears.

What do you think about this version (dialogue vs. recitative)?
Gabriel:  
It is engrossing and captivating.  It sounds different, but will keep audience’s listening fresh and engaged.  I also think it is a really smart way to break up what can become a monotonous production of Barber of Seville, since many patrons have seen it, and they expect things.  Bringing Rossini into the show as a character makes patrons observe the opera characters through a different lens, and gives them a chance to see past the catchy melodies, and step out of watching the show, and relate more to the characters as humans, and as Rossini’s creations.

Johnny Boehlefeld (2nd from left) portraying Figaro, 
along with cast members Brett Potts, (far left),
Liana Gineitis (center), Rossini (on platform) 
and Eric McConnell (seated, right)
Johnny
It makes it more relatable to people who are used to seeing musical theatre. It lowers one of the barriers to what some people think of with opera, since it has spoken dialogue.  It allows accessibility. 

What do you think about working Petite Opera?
Gabriel:  
I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with this group. Petite Opera cultivates a wonderful community with the people they hire… directors, music director, singers, staff… there seems to be a really supportive layer of collaboration and positivity.  This is not a cut-throat company that makes you prove yourself; this is a company that encourages you to do your best with support and care, versus with fear. The fact that the company has been in existence or 10 years—whereas as other companies ebb and flow, appear and disappear—artists and patrons are catching on to the approachable style and mission of the company.  This style of this Barber is a very “Petite Opera” thing to do. 

Johnny
It has been a good experience.  I have enjoyed working with Petite Opera.  Its a different experience to sing in English.  English makes the acting choice easier because we are communicating in our native language. 

How were you familiar with Petite Opera?
Gabriel
I have been acquainted with Petite Opera for quite a while.  I saw their recent adaptation--Magic Flute 3.0--as well as last year’s production, Assassins. I’ve known a lot of the performers who have worked with Petite Opera in the past, and they always have good things to say about the company. I love that Petite does its own translations and adaptations. Many companies focus on verismo style opera, “big sings” and new works, but Petite Opera has found its unique voice and niche in the community.  It creates very clever and applicable adaptations of classical repertoire in ways that today’s audience can really relate to.  People will understand Magic Flute in its classic form, but adapting it with a science fiction backdrop (as in 2015's Magic Flute 3.0: A Space Opera), it adds a whole new dimension of relatability.  Purist approaches are fine, but if music is allowed to become a museum, it becomes static and lifeless. If the classics are only presented in their classic form, they have more potential to shrivel up and die. It is akin to comparing recorded music versus live music: respect the style in the performance of it, but add flexibility to keep it fresh.

Johnny:  
I had heard about Petite Opera when it first started because I knew some people who had performed with the company. 

How would you describe this opera, concisely, to someone who has never seen it?  In short, why should they come see Petite Opera’s production?
Gabriel
It allows the characters, and even the composer, to become human, and not just be a puppet or robot doing the same old movements. This production breaks the fourth wall.

Johnny
Rossini’s Barber of Seville is one of the highlights of the bel canto repertoire, and has never left the repertoire anywhere in the world.  Because this is sung in English, our native tongue, it makes the story more understandable and relatable in a way it always isn’t (especially in a big production). 

How would you describe to a prospective patron what the opera is about?  

Johnny: 
Boy sees girl from afar, and decides she’s the one for him.  Through a series of ridiculous events, including multiple costumes and breaking into homes, Figaro assists the Count in winning his Rosina, foiling Bartolo’s plan to keep Rosina and her dowry for himself.  The ridiculous costumed affairs are the majority of the opera, which are fun and make you laugh.

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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

Let Me Count the Ways Almaviva Woos Rosina in Petite Opera's "Barber of Seville"


Max Hosmer plays
Count Almaviva
November 5, 10, 12, 17
Brett Potts and Max Hosmer, who split duties in portraying Count Almaviva in Petite Opera’s upcoming production of Barber of Seville sat down with Susan Baushke, Executive Director, to discuss the production.

What do you like about the character of Count Almaviva?
Max
Brett Potts plays
Count Almaviva
November 4, 11, 18, 19
He’s very confident in a carefree way and used to getting what he wants, and this is a fun game to him.  Like the carefree nature of that.
Brett:
The Count has ingenuity.  He’s clever in how he goes about what he wants, even if sometimes he hilariously fails. Its noble that he wants Rosina to love him for himself and not for his status or position.  It's a funny experiment.  He isn’t throwing around his wealth and see if he can win her on his own merits.

Any difference in how you play him in the original time period versus today? How are you distinguishing it?
Max:
The body language is slightly different. Today, I would play the Count with more entitlement. In the early 1800's, the Count has high stature in social position. With Figaro, and throughout, the count uses his nobility, and entitlement because of his nobility, to his benefit. Nobility excuses his actions, but doesn’t drive his actions.  “Use Figaro?" Sure, why not!

Rossini tries to restrain Dr. Bartolo as he attempts to break up Rosina
and Lindoro (who is actually Count Almaviva in disguise).
From Left: Rosina (Kaitlin Galetti), Count (Max Hosmer),
Dr. Bartolo (Eric McConnell), Rossini (Edward Kuffert)
Brett:
I agree. The body language of today versus early 1800's is certainly different. The costuming helps define that as well. The costumes of the his time were much more restrictive, versus today, they are more casual. Also, if I were playing the Count in 2017, I’d probably be texting every few minutes, the courtship would all be secret, and over in short time!  But then, we would not hhave all of these fun antics to entertain us!

What do you think of this version, where dialogue replaces the recitative?
Max
Barber is a good “starter opera” for those who haven’t seen it before. But, taking out the recitative makes it even more approachable for newcomers.  It is just lighter, and more fun.

Brett:
Removing the recitatives definitely shortens the length. Because we are trying to make this as accessible as possible, this decision definitely makes it faster and shortens the learning curve to connect with the plot. The story is still intact without the recitatives, so we’re faithful to the original, but more concise.

What do you think of working with Petite Opera so far?
Max:  
It's a good group… cast and production crew seem very fun to work with, which is extremely important.I think it's fun that our "assistant director" is a canine mascot named Silas; he contributes, and makes the rehearsals more relaxed and family-oriented.

Brett:
I am the only person who in the cast who has previously worked with Petite Opera. I enjoy being able to learn big roles like this in a more intimate setting, which is very helpful for this, my first Rossini production. Petite Opera schedules a longer rehearsal period, which is inviting; it gives me more time to get the character in my body. Also, it's easier to schedule around my other conflicts.

Silas
Assistant Music Director and Mascot
Brett, How is this production different than your previous Petite Opera production (Magic Flute)?
Brett:  Magic Flute 3.0, with the space theme and aliens, was quite a different experience in total. I’ve enjoyed both of my Petite Opera production experiences.  Flute was fun with all of the extra jokes written in.  This is fun in that is closer to the original.  Both are great!

What do you think about the added character of Rossini? What does his existence do to help build your character?
Brett:  
Rossini is rather like a narrator, so it helps makes the whole show more concise and accessible.  Its a very interesting twist.  Its fun to talk to your “creator” as a character!

What are your thoughts on performing this work in English?
Max
It removes a barrier that might keep some people away from it.  English makes it more accessible. I like singing in English a lot. I love American opera, so this allows me to work with new material and reach the audience.

Brett
I like it. I’ve done some parts of this show in Italian, and we're doing English text and dialogue. I find it valuable to know the show in both languages. And because of the English text, this version is much easier to assimilate.

Describe the Count's relationship with the characters at the beginning of the opera versus at the end?
Max:  
Count Almaviva has his mind very much set on getting Rosina. Figaro gets roped into the scheme of things. By the end, he has accomplished his goal, and won his prized Rosina. By the end, he harbors no ill feelings to Bartolo or Basilio; it was all in good fun.  Figaro was his team mate throughout and Rosina is now his.

Brett
At the beginning, he doesn’t know anything about Rosina, he’s seen and loved her from afar—frankly, we'd call it "stalking her" today (after all, when Bartolo moves the household, he follows her from one city to another!) His relationship with her changes over the course of the opera.  
     With Figaro, at the beginning, it starts out a little separate; Figaro wants to make money, and Count Almaviva wants a quick solution to Rosina. As they work together more, Figaro’s ingenuity shows through more and more. Count Almaviva plays his nobility card several times, and he uses his confidence as a Count to lead his behavior. He has a presumption that causes Rosina to fall in love with him. 

How does your Count view Rosina?  As a piece in the end game? A life mate? A conquest?
Max:  
He envisions her at the beginning as a conquest, but by the end of the opera, he has legitimate feelings for her. 

Brett:  
At the start, I believe she is more of a possible conquest--something unattainable that he must attain. He knows nothing about her at that point. At the end, it seems they are happy together. He’s determined, but she isn’t a true conquest; he seems to have true feelings for her. 
Brett Potts (center), promotes the show around town
with fellow cast members Max Hosmer (left), Liana Gineitis
and Kaitlin Galetti (right)

What is so special about Rosina that Count Almaviva “must win her”?
Max
She’s feisty.  He doesn’t want a vaporous airhead who just wants him because he’s a Count.  He finds fawning court women unattractive, whereas Rosina is her own person, so she is an attractive goal.

Brett:  He finds her very attractive. He also wants to save her from Bartolo.  After all, this old guy is holding her hostage, which is unjust. He envisions himself as her Knight In Shining Armor. He is attracted to her, not just her dowry (like Bartolo).

How do you approach playing all of the favorite “disguised characters” the Count assumes throughout the production?
Max
For the drunk soldier, I ride the line between a mean and a happy drunk. For the music teacher, I portray a caricature of the slimy, suck-up, and pandering servant. It all comes back to the game aspect… its fun to take on different characters.  He doesn’t take himself too seriously; however, he takes winning seriously.  He never doubts that he will win her.

Brett
I try to bring more character into the voice, and different mannerisms and ticks.  The Music Teacher, The Priest and the Drunken Soldier. The soldier is going to have more slurred speech, and be more clumsy. The Music Teacher is more about putting on upper crust/academic airs.  He is there to do a job, so is more purposeful.

How has it been working with Mike Kotze (Stage Director) and Cody Bradley (Music Director)?
Max
I'm just enjoying the whole process. The staging Mike has created is great. I've worked with Cody in the past, but I'm always impressed with his musical insights.

Brett:  
Mike is great. He really seems to know the opera really well.  He always has specific things for us to do, but he's flexible about changing things on the fly when they don’t work. He has great ideas for the drama and how to orient and balance the stage picture, and maintain the levity throughout, with staging and timing. He's very pleasant to work with, and friendly and capable of getting really great things out of the performers. 
     I first met Cody during Petite Opera’s Magic Flute, where he was Music Director. He is  an incredibly talented musician, with great instincts. He absorbs musical knowledge constantly. It's a theme with him. He really knows his literature and brings his knowledge of all of the various performances and productions into each work. He’s also a fantastic pianist, hilarious and quite a personality.

How would you describe this opera, concisely, to someone who has never seen it? Why should they come see this production?
Max:
Patrons get to see a group of people on stage singing a bunch of ridiculous notes, and having a lot of fun. This is an enjoyable, good escape from the everyday. Come see it and have some fun!

Brett:   

It's a comedy, which makes the production accessible and great for an opera newcomer, and really fun for opera aficionados as well. Patrons will really appreciate the new dialogue and removal of the recitatives.  Also, all of the singers are really good.
    As far as the show's plot, it is basically a lover's triangle: Bartolo wants Rosina for his own; so does the Count. There is a bit of an adversarial relationship between the Count and Bartolo. What ensues is a string of hilariously timed and choreographed contraptions and deceptions and trickery to get Bartolo to give her up, or swindle him out of being able to marry her. There are complications at every step of the way, and secrecy, to form a hilarious sequence of events that is imaginative enough, yet plausible enough to make you think it could really happen.


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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 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 Beyer House Auditorium

part of St Mary's Episcopal Church campus
306 S Prospect Ave at Crescent Ave
Park Ridge, IL 60068