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Produce Your Own Opera: The Barber of Seville, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 642

Essay

Rossini’s The Barber of Seville falls within the tradition of opera buffa, which means that it is a comic opera. According to this basic comic nature of the libretto and the general humorous plot, it would appear difficult to produce The Barber of Seville in a manner that is not comic. Furthermore, the music, such as the overture and Figaro’s aria, are so well known that they evoke reactions of familiarity with the listener that would seem to conflict with the attempt to transform the opera into a more serious work. Nevertheless, the general concept of my production of The Barber of Seville would be precisely such an attempt to make a darker version of the opera, using some of its familiar motifs in combination with more gothic versions of set design, lighting, costumes, and makeup to create this vision.

The libretto of The Barber of Seville, while comic in tone, nevertheless contains enough elements of conflict that such a production could be realized. The two acts of the opera center on Lindoro, a disguise of Count Almaviva, who attempts to win the love of the female lead Rosina. The various manners in which Count Almaviva tries to realize his aim, such as disguising himself as a drunken soldier at the suggestion of Figaro, could nevertheless be interpreted in a more sinister manner that would satisfy the darker concept that I would try to achieve in this production.

However, to realize this aim, it is clear that lighting, set design, and costumes must contradict with the relatively light content of the libretto and the familiarity of the opera with the audience. Hence, the lighting would be very dark in character, perhaps resembling a chiaroscuro form of lighting that recalls the more depressive works of the Italian painter Caravaggio. This would mean that the performers appear in minimal lighting, surrounded by an overwhelming black scenery. Moreover, the set design would be very minimal, whereas the interiors of, for example, Dr. Bartolo’s home where Rosina lives could be constructed in a claustrophobic manner. Costumes would need to be somewhat grotesque, bearing a resemblance to Passolini movies or films from David Lynch, such as Dune and Eraserhead. Makeup would also be frightening in design. This could be realized in a manner similar to some of the images that are brought to mind in Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death.” Props could also be added on with a certain symbolic meaning, as the production attempts to transform the narrative by these changes, and also transform the prejudgments of the audience regarding The Barber of Seville. For example, the main character of Count Almaviva may be continually accompanied with a knife, which suggests a sinister intention that is never explicitly stated in the libretto. Accordingly, the familiarity of the music with the overall gothic horror of the production itself could work in good contrast. For example, in horror films familiar music is often juxtaposed with violent scenes so as to create a greater effect of terror. Figaro’s aria, a world famous piece of music, could then be transformed into something entirely different, such as a mask for terror.

The general concept of the production would therefore attempt to play with motifs of comedy and familiarity, reversing them into something entirely different. While this approach is mostly defined by an attempt to do something different in the production of one of the most famous operas of all time, the concept appears justified by both ideas of artistic freedom and the opera itself. Namely, familiarity, as horror films often show, can be used as an effective tool to build tension and suspense in the audience. Moreover, this approach would perhaps also make the listeners take Rossini’s opera more seriously, since, to the extent that it is so well known, it has become a parody of itself.

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