Opera group taking cut at Barber of Seville

Don't look so perplexed. Why must you be vexed? Can't you see you're next? Yes, you're next. You're so next.

While millions of people can hum that little ditty from their childhood recollections of Saturday morning Looney Tunes as crooned by Bugs Bunny, others know it by its original version, the blockbuster comedic opera by Rossini entitled The Barber of Seville.

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This is the show the upstart Fraser Lyric Opera Society is calling into action for their second annual summer production. The group started last year with Batrice et Bndict, an operatic spin on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. The society's director and one of its leading singers, Melanie Nicol, said the audience and sponsorship support was excellent, so the society wanted to keep the momentum rolling with something funny and familiar for their sophomore effort.

"You could say 'unknown,' that's a fair word to use," to describe Batrice et Bndict, said Nicol. "The average opera fan would probably have no idea it existed. This one is different. It is very well known. Almost everybody has heard bits and pieces, at least, and it is Bugs Bunny-approved."

It scored high on the familiarity scale, high on the entertainment value scale, and it was also a perfect fit with the voices at Nicol's disposal. As a new community-based opera company, the parts Rossini wrote in this production matched well with the local talent in Prince George and the professional ones Nicol would be best able import.

"The audience can be assured the voices can handle these parts," she said. "We have a 28-member chorus, all local, and many of them returning from last year." It was a 22-voice chorus in 2015. "We held auditions, had a great turnout, and that gave us a chance to put some local voices into some elite roles."

Some of the highlight singers include Hanna Fettis and Barry Booth from the local ranks, and imports Matt Chittick (he was also in the Batrice et Bndict cast) as the count, Jason Klippenstein as Figaro, Ian Fundytus as Doctor Bartolo, Nicol as Rosina.

"Our young community singers will have the unique opportunity to not only sing side by side with professional singers but also be coached and metored," Nicol explained.

The stage director is Adam Da Ros who once worked with Nicol while they were training in Italy. He is originally from Dawson Creek but now lives in Vancouver. Nicol said he jumped at the chance to come back to his home region for an operatic opportunity.

The music director for the show is Kathleen Allan.

The show will be performed at Theatre North West on July 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. then a matinee on July 17 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now at the TNW website or at Books & Company.

You can also donate directly to the Fraser Lyric Opera Company through the FundRazr website. There is a link on the company's Facebook page.

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