Get Ready For Fun at HGO's The Barber of Seville AKA Opera 101

Sofia Selowsky sings the Rosina role.
Sofia Selowsky sings the Rosina role. Photo courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

click to enlarge Sofia Selowsky sings the Rosina role. - PHOTO COURTESY OF HOUSTON GRAND OPERA
Sofia Selowsky sings the Rosina role.
Photo courtesy of Houston Grand Opera
Sofia Selowsky has been singing the arias and performing selected scenes from The Barber of Seville for several years. But later this week when the Houston Grand Opera unveils its latest production of the Rossini classic, it will be the first time she performs the music on stage in a full-length opera.

Taking on the role of Rosina, the object of Count Almaviva's affections, Selowsky says she was exposed to opera from age 3 on when her father would bring home VHS tapes of classical works. "I would dress up. "Queen of the Night" was my favorite and I would sing along and my parents from that gathered that maybe I had some sort of an ear."

Still, she didn't start taking classical voice lessons until she was 15 years old. "When I was younger it was the costumes and the story. As I got older it was the harmonies and \he vocal lines and the melodies. "

And despite getting a degree in German history from Harvard, shec ontinued to take voice lessons in her spare time throughout college, the lure of opera continuing.  "I love getting on stage and performing but the music is just so glorious. That's what brings me back again and again how overwhelmingly wonderful so much of the operatic repertoire is and just getting to be a part of that is why I love opera.

In Barber, the Count calls on Figaro, a barber and friend, to help him evade Rosina's guardian so that he may talk with her. What follows is comedy and some of the most recognizable classic music ever.

""I'm telling all my non-opera friends that this is the opera to come see. It's a great story. It's entertaining, it's funny, it's fast-paced," Selowsky says. "There aren't really any lulls. It's very bubbly like champagne."

She describes her character as "very cunning, vivacious, energetic. She's curious and hungry to explore life. She's someone who knows what she wants and she's not going to let anyone get in the way of her getting to her objective."

A former HGO studio artist who grew up in the Bethsda, Maryland area, Selowsky says her parents will be coming to see her perform here. Since leaving the studio in 2016, she has mainly been doing concerts around the country with various symphonies and chamber orchestras. She hopes the next step in her career will take her overseas.

"Come and enjoy yourself. It's a really crazy, wacky production," Selowsky says. And a great and easy introduction to opera, Bugs Bunny music and all.

Performances are scheduled for January 26 through February 10 at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sunday at Resilience Hall, George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida De Las Americas. Sung in Italianwith projected English translation. For information call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $25-$322.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing