This past weekend my husband and I traveled to Urbana-Champaign for a production of Rossini’s opera “The Barber of Seville.” We had lived there for 20 years, and during that time Paul had conducted many operas and I had prepared many opera choruses. This production of “Barber” was probably the finest production of that opera we have ever seen…virtually anywhere. Three things made it special. First, Jerald Siena (that wonderful tenor who now teaches at Uof I) directed the production and worked carefully with the set designer and others to create a witty, colorful and altogether delightful period staging that was truly guided by the music. Second, the wonderful baritone Ronald Hedlund, who retired from U of I a few years ago, but still sings wonderfully (at an age well past 70!), made his stage farewell as a terrific, funny, superbly sung Dr. Bartolo. And finally, we discovered the lovely young soprano Jacqueline Piccolino, who played a stunningly wonderful Rosina. This young woman – only a junior at U of I(!) – is absolutely a world class singer. She has it all – solid technique; a voice of beauty, flexibility and, when needed, power; great acting ability and delightful looks. She’s off to the Merola program in San Francisco this summer, and probably will return to U of I to finish her degree. I hope that she comes to Chicago and joins the Ryan Center….because after a few years there, she could go anywhere and make a huge career. Exciting weekend.
Here’s the composer himself.
And who could forget Warner Bros. classic “Rabbit of Seville”: