For the first time in more than 20 years, the University of Houston Moores Opera Center is presenting The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini.
"While it might not seem a radical programming choice, actually for us we just haven't had the right people at any one time and we do now - so we're doing it," explained Buck Ross, director of the center.
"It's not only the fast patter but it's also extremely florid music," Ross said. "There's a lot of ornamentation, a lot of very high singing for both the tenor and the soprano and we need somebody that had that kind of skill."
Adding to that is the right person for the comic buffa role of Bartolo "It's the kind of thing that students don't normally have the chops for," Ross said. But UH has Cesar Toruella from Puerto Rico, who has the comic acting ability and exactly the right voice for it, Ross said.
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The ever popular Barber is being paired with The Consul, an opera by Gian Carlo Menotti about oppression and bureaucracy that UH is doing for the third time.
The Consul actually premiered on Broadway in 1950 and Menotti won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Music for it, Ross said.
"It's a very, very strong piece, kind of an ideal show for a university; there's a lot of roles in it. It's a combination of modern opera and a very old fashioned one at the same time. We had all the right singers for it," Ross said.
The two operas will be performed January 23-27. The Consul: 7:30 p.m. January 23, 25 and 26. The Barber of Seville: 7:30 p.m. January 24 and 27 and 2 p.m. January 26. Entrance #16 at UH's Main Campus, 4800 Calhoun Road. For information call 713-743-3313 or visit uh.edu/class/music/opera/. $12 and $20.