Let Me Count the Ways Almaviva Woos Rosina in Petite Opera’s “Barber of Seville”


Max Hosmer plays
Count Almaviva
November 5, 10, 12, 17

Brett Potts and Max Hosmer, who split duties in portraying Count Almaviva in Petite Opera’s upcoming production of Barber of Seville sat down with Susan Baushke, Executive Director, to discuss the production.

What do you like about the character of Count Almaviva?

Max

Brett Potts plays
Count Almaviva
November 4, 11, 18, 19

He’s very confident in a carefree way and used to getting what he wants, and this is a fun game to him.  Like the carefree nature of that.

Brett:
The Count has ingenuity.  He’s clever in how he goes about what he wants, even if sometimes he hilariously fails. Its noble that he wants Rosina to love him for himself and not for his status or position.  It’s a funny experiment.  He isn’t throwing around his wealth and see if he can win her on his own merits.

Any difference in how you play him in the original time period versus today? How are you distinguishing it?
Max:
The body language is slightly different. Today, I would play the Count with more entitlement. In the early 1800’s, the Count has high stature in social position. With Figaro, and throughout, the count uses his nobility, and entitlement because of his nobility, to his benefit. Nobility excuses his actions, but doesn’t drive his actions.  “Use Figaro?” Sure, why not!

Rossini tries to restrain Dr. Bartolo as he attempts to break up Rosina
and Lindoro (who is actually Count Almaviva in disguise).
From Left: Rosina (Kaitlin Galetti), Count (Max Hosmer),
Dr. Bartolo (Eric McConnell), Rossini (Edward Kuffert)

Brett:
I agree. The body language of today versus early 1800’s is certainly different. The costuming helps define that as well. The costumes of the his time were much more restrictive, versus today, they are more casual. Also, if I were playing the Count in 2017, I’d probably be texting every few minutes, the courtship would all be secret, and over in short time!  But then, we would not hhave all of these fun antics to entertain us!



What do you think of this version, where dialogue replaces the recitative?
Max
Barber is a good “starter opera” for those who haven’t seen it before. But, taking out the recitative makes it even more approachable for newcomers.  It is just lighter, and more fun.

Brett:
Removing the recitatives definitely shortens the length. Because we are trying to make this as accessible as possible, this decision definitely makes it faster and shortens the learning curve to connect with the plot. The story is still intact without the recitatives, so we’re faithful to the original, but more concise.

What do you think of working with Petite Opera so far?
Max:  
It’s a good group… cast and production crew seem very fun to work with, which is extremely important.I think it’s fun that our “assistant director” is a canine mascot named Silas; he contributes, and makes the rehearsals more relaxed and family-oriented.

Brett:
I am the only person who in the cast who has previously worked with Petite Opera. I enjoy being able to learn big roles like this in a more intimate setting, which is very helpful for this, my first Rossini production. Petite Opera schedules a longer rehearsal period, which is inviting; it gives me more time to get the character in my body. Also, it’s easier to schedule around my other conflicts.

Silas
Assistant Music Director and Mascot

Brett, How is this production different than your previous Petite Opera production (Magic Flute)?

Brett:  Magic Flute 3.0, with the space theme and aliens, was quite a different experience in total. I’ve enjoyed both of my Petite Opera production experiences.  Flute was fun with all of the extra jokes written in.  This is fun in that is closer to the original.  Both are great!

What do you think about the added character of Rossini? What does his existence do to help build your character?
Brett:  
Rossini is rather like a narrator, so it helps makes the whole show more concise and accessible.  Its a very interesting twist.  Its fun to talk to your “creator” as a character!

What are your thoughts on performing this work in English?
Max
It removes a barrier that might keep some people away from it.  English makes it more accessible. I like singing in English a lot. I love American opera, so this allows me to work with new material and reach the audience.

Brett
I like it. I’ve done some parts of this show in Italian, and we’re doing English text and dialogue. I find it valuable to know the show in both languages. And because of the English text, this version is much easier to assimilate.

Describe the Count’s relationship with the characters at the beginning of the opera versus at the end?
Max:  
Count Almaviva has his mind very much set on getting Rosina. Figaro gets roped into the scheme of things. By the end, he has accomplished his goal, and won his prized Rosina. By the end, he harbors no ill feelings to Bartolo or Basilio; it was all in good fun.  Figaro was his team mate throughout and Rosina is now his.

Brett
At the beginning, he doesn’t know anything about Rosina, he’s seen and loved her from afar—frankly, we’d call it “stalking her” today (after all, when Bartolo moves the household, he follows her from one city to another!) His relationship with her changes over the course of the opera.  
     With Figaro, at the beginning, it starts out a little separate; Figaro wants to make money, and Count Almaviva wants a quick solution to Rosina. As they work together more, Figaro’s ingenuity shows through more and more. Count Almaviva plays his nobility card several times, and he uses his confidence as a Count to lead his behavior. He has a presumption that causes Rosina to fall in love with him. 

How does your Count view Rosina?  As a piece in the end game? A life mate? A conquest?
Max:  
He envisions her at the beginning as a conquest, but by the end of the opera, he has legitimate feelings for her. 


Brett:  
At the start, I believe she is more of a possible conquest–something unattainable that he must attain. He knows nothing about her at that point. At the end, it seems they are happy together. He’s determined, but she isn’t a true conquest; he seems to have true feelings for her. 
Brett Potts (center), promotes the show around town
with fellow cast members Max Hosmer (left), Liana Gineitis
and Kaitlin Galetti (right)


What is so special about Rosina that Count Almaviva “must win her”?
Max
She’s feisty.  He doesn’t want a vaporous airhead who just wants him because he’s a Count.  He finds fawning court women unattractive, whereas Rosina is her own person, so she is an attractive goal.

Brett:  He finds her very attractive. He also wants to save her from Bartolo.  After all, this old guy is holding her hostage, which is unjust. He envisions himself as her Knight In Shining Armor. He is attracted to her, not just her dowry (like Bartolo).

How do you approach playing all of the favorite “disguised characters” the Count assumes throughout the production?
Max
For the drunk soldier, I ride the line between a mean and a happy drunk. For the music teacher, I portray a caricature of the slimy, suck-up, and pandering servant. It all comes back to the game aspect… its fun to take on different characters.  He doesn’t take himself too seriously; however, he takes winning seriously.  He never doubts that he will win her.

Brett
I try to bring more character into the voice, and different mannerisms and ticks.  The Music Teacher, The Priest and the Drunken Soldier. The soldier is going to have more slurred speech, and be more clumsy. The Music Teacher is more about putting on upper crust/academic airs.  He is there to do a job, so is more purposeful.

How has it been working with Mike Kotze (Stage Director) and Cody Bradley (Music Director)?
Max
I’m just enjoying the whole process. The staging Mike has created is great. I’ve worked with Cody in the past, but I’m always impressed with his musical insights.

Brett:  
Mike is great. He really seems to know the opera really well.  He always has specific things for us to do, but he’s flexible about changing things on the fly when they don’t work. He has great ideas for the drama and how to orient and balance the stage picture, and maintain the levity throughout, with staging and timing. He’s very pleasant to work with, and friendly and capable of getting really great things out of the performers. 
     I first met Cody during Petite Opera’s Magic Flute, where he was Music Director. He is  an incredibly talented musician, with great instincts. He absorbs musical knowledge constantly. It’s a theme with him. He really knows his literature and brings his knowledge of all of the various performances and productions into each work. He’s also a fantastic pianist, hilarious and quite a personality.

How would you describe this opera, concisely, to someone who has never seen it? Why should they come see this production?
Max:
Patrons get to see a group of people on stage singing a bunch of ridiculous notes, and having a lot of fun. This is an enjoyable, good escape from the everyday. Come see it and have some fun!

Brett:   

It’s a comedy, which makes the production accessible and great for an opera newcomer, and really fun for opera aficionados as well. Patrons will really appreciate the new dialogue and removal of the recitatives.  Also, all of the singers are really good.
    As far as the show’s plot, it is basically a lover’s triangle: Bartolo wants Rosina for his own; so does the Count. There is a bit of an adversarial relationship between the Count and Bartolo. What ensues is a string of hilariously timed and choreographed contraptions and deceptions and trickery to get Bartolo to give her up, or swindle him out of being able to marry her. There are complications at every step of the way, and secrecy, to form a hilarious sequence of events that is imaginative enough, yet plausible enough to make you think it could really happen.


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Tickets are $27 for Adults (ages 18-61); $25 for Seniors (age 62 and up)
$15 for Students (K through College, with ID); $5 for Children ages 5 and under
To reserve your tickets for payment by cash or check at Box Office on performance date:
Call 847-553-4442 or email tickets@petiteopera.org
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Please note: reservations and Credit Card orders accepted up to 4 hours prior to show time.
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LOCATION:
Mary Wilson Beyer House Auditorium

part of St Mary’s Episcopal Church campus
306 S Prospect Ave at Crescent Ave
Park Ridge, IL 60068