By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s rapid-fire Rossini.
That’s what Opera Philadelphia is saying about the Barber of Seville – it’s opener for the 40th season.
That barber’s name is Figaro, played by Jonathan Beyer.
“He gets the famous aria which is in the beginning of the opera.”
Beyer intones “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro.” “The applause is built in right?”
For Beyer, a baritone trained at the Curtis Institute of Music, the familiarity is due to Looney Tunes – the animated shorts starring Bugs Bunny – with a background score of operatic arias.
The cartoons introduced the Barber of Seville to more children than anyone, according to tenor Taylor Stayton, who plays the love-sick Count Almaviva.
“It’s totally charming and lighthearted and the music is very recognizable thanks to Looney Tunes,” said Stayton.
Stayton knows the Academy of Music stage. As a student at Philadelphia’s Academy of the Vocal Arts, he found his voice.
“My teacher introduced me to opera and I happened to be OK at it,” said Stayton. “It kind of chose me rather than me choosing it.”
When the opera opens on Friday, September, 26th, Opera Philadelphia will be recording it for a free broadcast the next night on Independence Mall.
Opera on the Mall is free to the public, but registration online is required. Last year, 4,000 patrons enjoyed the night at the opera.
This year, in honor of Bugs Bunny and Co., Warner Brothers’ The Rabbit of Seville will be shown before the Opera performance.
For tickets, go to www.theartsinphilly.org.