Barber of Seville

Not since 1907, when Richard Strauss’s gyrating nympho Salome got the ax after her one-night-only Metropolitan Opera premiere has such rancor rattled America’s foremost opera house. When the august Met unveiled John Adam’s The Death of Klinghoffer (1991) last month, charges of antisemitism and pro-Palestinian sentiments were hurled at the management and anonymous death threats were made to singers and musicians, while the blogosphere was abuzz with wild fiction and exaggeration. The show went on, however, with patrons walking across Lincoln Center through a police gauntlet of placard-carrying protestors. But executive director Peter Gelb caved — or judiciously reconsidered, depending which side of the barricades you’re on — and canceled the opera’s Met Live in HD broadcast. Replacing Adam’s adult gloom will be the most apolitical, sweet and non-threatening work imaginable, Rossini’s sparkling opera buffa The Barber of Seville (Il Barbiere di Siviglia).

The cast is top-notch: Eminent coloratura soprano Isabel Leonard sings Rosina, who’s in love with stratospheric tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Almaviva. (Without question, Brownlee is the best Rossini tenor in the world.) The couple is abetted in their love affair by baritone Christopher Maltman as devious barber Figaro, who always has a trick up his sleeve to thwart randy Bartolo, ancient ward of Rosina, who wants her for himself. There’s nothing to protest about this 1816 masterpiece composed entirely of sunshine and laughter.

11:55 a.m. Multiple locations including Houston Marq’E Stadium 22, 7600 Katy Freeway. For information, visit regmovies.com. $24.
Sat., Nov. 22, 11:55 a.m., 2014

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D.L. Groover has contributed to countless reputable publications including the Houston Press since 2003. His theater criticism has earned him a national award from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) as well as three statewide Lone Star Press Awards for the same. He's co-author of the irreverent appreciation, Skeletons from the Opera Closet (St. Martin's Press), now in its fourth printing.
Contact: D. L. Groover