The Barber of Seville as styled by Al Simmons

 

The Barber of Seville as styled by Al Simmons was made possible by
leading support from the Safe at Home Manitoba program.


 

The Bald Facts

 

The Backstory

Manitoba’s most famous comedian of invention, Al Simmons, has translated the story of this popular comic opera from Italian to English and plays all the characters in his condensed version.

You will be figa-rolling in your seat!

The Plot

Rosina is in love with the Count who is pretending to be someone else. Dr. Bartolo is determined to wed Rosina, and Figaro, the jack-of-all-trades barber, is having a bad hair day!

Running time

Approximately 45 minutes

 


Watch & Win

 

You could win a $200 Manitoba Hydro “Stay Safe at Home” Prize Pak

Three prizes to be awarded courtesy of Manitoba Hydro

It’s easy. Watch the show, correctly answer the question about the show, and your name will be entered to win a prize.

 

Prize Paks Include

  • A safety pack bag with carbon monoxide detector, smoke alarm, and fire extinguisher
  • Emergency lights, Secur auto emergency tool, and fleece blanket
  • First aid supplies, sanitizer, and masks

Hair’s the Question:

The Count asks Figaro to help him meet Rosina. What does he offer as payment for his assistance?

 

This contest is now closed.

 


Activities

 

Make a Hat

Al wears many hats and wigs in his show.

Here’s the instructions on how to make your own paper hat.

Take a picture of yourself in your hat and post to facebook or instagram with #mobarber and tag us @manitobaopera.

 

Colour The Barber of Seville

A selection of colouring pages adapted from photographs of Manitoba Opera productions of The Barber of Seville and of Al’s show.

Post a pic of you and your creation to facebook or instagram with #mobarber and tag us @manitobaopera.

Download our Colouring Pages

 


The Creative Genius of Al Simmons

 

 

“A masterpiece!”– Los Angeles Times

 

Manitoba’s own, Juno Award-winner Al Simmons is a creative genius whose charm and humanity have won over a legion of fans at theatres and festivals around the world. His highly original performances of profound wackiness and his off-the-wall inventions take the arts of music and comedy to unparalleled heights of hilarity.

He’s a musician! He’s an inventor! He’s a nut!  He’s been called the Thomas Edison of entertainers, a wizard of one-liners and a lightning bolt of lunacy. His astounding gadgets, preposterous songs, impeccable comic timing and kooky take on classic vaudeville have thrilled and entertained fans of all ages for 4½ decades.

Read More about Al Simmons

 


The Rabbit of Seville

 


The Plot in 60 Seconds

One evening in Seville, Count Almaviva (disguised as “Lindoro”) serenades Rosina from outside the home of her guardian, Dr. Bartolo. Figaro arrives on the scene, and the two contrive to sneak Almaviva inside to meet with Rosina. Meanwhile, Bartolo conspires with Don Basilio to marry Rosina for her fortune. When Almaviva enters the house disguised as a drunken solider, his disorderly behavior creates confusion. Pretending to be Lindoro, Almaviva takes the opportunity of this distraction to deliver a letter to Rosina.

The next day, Almaviva returns disguised as the music tutor “Don Alonso,” substituting for Basilio who he claims is ill. Bartolo falls for the ruse, and during a “music lesson” Almaviva (still pretending to be Lindoro) and Rosina make plans to run off together. Bartolo, realizing he has been tricked, determines to marry Rosina that very night. He convinces Rosina that Lindoro, working for Almaviva, has deceived her. Heartbroken, she agrees to marry Bartolo. Later, Figaro and Almaviva sneak into the house with a key that Figaro had snagged earlier. Almaviva reveals his true identity to Rosina. Basilio, instructed by Bartolo to bring a notary, appears and agrees to bear witness to  the marriage of Rosina and Almaviva. Bartolo, arriving too late, begrudgingly accepts that he has been beaten.

 


A History of Barbers

 

At the time that The Barber of Seville was premiered, the role of the professional barber was changing throughout Europe. Up through the 1700s, barbers – then called barber-surgeons—performed a wide range of tasks relating to caring for the personal needs of others. These tasks included trimming hair and shaving beards, cleaning and pulling teeth, and even rudimentary surgery and blood-letting (for centuries it was believed that “bad blood” was a cause of many maladies, and needed to be periodically drained from the body). As physicians in Europe were forbidden from performing surgeries, those duties fell to the barber-surgeons, who also handled embalming and autopsies.

Over time the practice of surgery evolved into its own discipline. Royal decrees in France (1743) and England (1745) forbade barbers from performing surgery, and the College of Surgery was founded in England in 1800, further separating the roles of barber and surgeon. The skillful hands of the barber were set more exclusively to the fields of hair, skin, and scalp care, and the modern barbering profession grew towards what we recognize today.

We know from Rossini’s opera that Figaro does more than just trim hair and style wigs for the other characters in The Barber of Seville. His famous aria “Largo al factotum” is all about how much everyone in the city depends on him. While you watch the video, look and listen for some of the other services the different characters require from Figaro. Just like Al Simmons, Figaro wears a lot of hats!


Still want more?

Check out The Barber of Seville study guide.

Download our Study Guide

 


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The Bald Facts

Watch & Win

Activities You Can Do At Home

About Al Simmons

The Rabbit of Seville

The Plot in 60 Seconds

A History of Barbers

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Fun Facts

Figaro! Figaro! Figarooooo!

Ask someone to sing a famous piece from an opera and chances are it will be “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!” from The Barber of Seville. Officially known as “Largo al factotum della citta” in Italian, the aria (another word for song) showcases Figaro the barber singing about how he is being called by everyone in town (“largo al factotum”- calling a barber) for his services. Back in the day, a barber or “factotum” was a general servant who could do a bit of everything.

It was a Flop the First Night

This comedy gem is over 200 years old. When it premiered in Rome in 1816, it was a flop – the audience hissed and booed, there were accidents during the performance, and legend has it that even a cat wandered onto the stage! However, by the second night the audience had changed its’ mind and The Barber of Seville quickly became one of the most talked-about shows in town.

The Composer was a Writing Machine

The Italian composer Gioachino Rossini was very productive!  The Barber of Seville was written in just 13 days. It is said that he completed two operas a year for 19 years and then retired at the age of 37 never to write another opera again. He did enjoy writing songs for his dog’s birthday each year though. What a lucky canine.

A Pop Culture Star

The Barber of Seville has been referenced multiple times in pop culture in television and movies, notably featured in Looney Tunes with Bugs Bunny as the “Rabbit of Seville” and “The Long-Haired Hare.”

Figaro’s aria, “Largo al Factotum”, was used as the overture to the 1993 film Mrs. Doubtfire, with the late Robin Williams singing along.

The Barber of Seville has been featured in advertising since the 19th century for everything from canned meat to automobiles!

 

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