Lyric Opera of Chicago


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Years ago, opera singers either looked the part, acted the part, or sang the part, but not all at the same time. 

But times have changed – opera is all over the media, so singers need to look like a million bucks and act with Hollywood-worthy excitement, while, of course, still making the most beautiful sounds an audience could desire!

Lyric’s new Barber of Seville boasts a trio that meets all those requirements in a big way: Nathan Gunn as Figaro, the barber of many talents; Alek Shrader as the devious but amorous Count Almaviva; and Isabel Leonard as the Count’s beloved Rosina, the most captivating señorita in Seville.

These American stars could all step from the pages of Vanity Fair. They boast looks to rival, say, Tom Cruise (Nathan), Leonardo DiCaprio (Alek), and Natalie Portman (Isabel), with charisma to burn. When looks combine with shining voices and scintillating personalities, we’re talking magic time! Barber needs terrific teamwork, so it’s great that the three already know each other (the international opera scene is actually a pretty small world): in fact, Nathan was onstage with Isabel for her debut in Roméo et Juliette at the Met, and she and Alek have been partners there in both Barber and The Tempest

Isabel, Alek, and Nathan are one leg up on a lot of other singers because they’re physically so fearless. In Barber there’s lots of physical movement, especially for Nathan. “I’ve always found that if I’m given enough time, I can adjust to whatever physicality there is,” says Nathan. “It is an opera – it’s not meant to just be listened to, it’s meant to be seen as well. If the physicality works, I’ll do it!” Any Rosina has to be fabulously graceful – no problem for Isabel, a native New Yorker who studied as a girl at the Joffrey Ballet School!  Like his colleagues, Alek is a terrific mover onstage. His role in Barber is super-active – although, luckily, it doesn’t demand what he had to deal with recently in Bordeaux for Handel’s Alcina, “where I was a gorilla in a full gorilla suit.  Isabel was in that – ask her how many pounds I lost!” 

Gunn, Leonard, and Shrader, a trio to treasure in The Barber of Seville!  Check out Lyric’s new production onstage – just 5 performances left through February 28!

Lyric Opera & The Second City present
Dr. Opera—Session 3: The Barber of Seville

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New Lyric Opera Production. Generously made possible by the Gramma Fisher Foundation of Marshalltown, Iowa, the NIB Foundation, Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin, and Margot and Josef Lakonishok.

Photos by Dan Rest.