Opera dream realized as company presents "Barber''
Gazette Entertainment Editor
The wait is nearly over. Fans of opera will be able to cheer the debut of newly formed Rimrock Opera Company of Billings next weekend when it presents Rossini's "Barber of Seville'' in two performances. The opera favorite will perform at 7:30 p.m. next Friday, Nov. 19, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, at the Alberta Bair Theater in Billings. The opera is to be sung in Italian with English subtitles and more than 100 actors, musicians, backstage workers and volunteers are involved.
The opera is the dream child of a group of earnest volunteers who recruited baritone Pablo Elvira from his niche with the Intermountain Opera Company of Bozeman to help engineer the production.
The Puerto Rico native is billed as the ``greatest living Figaro'' and he is enthusiastic about bringing his talents to Billings. ``Many Billings area people, including ranchers from the area, have been faithful patrons of the Bozeman productions,'' Elvira said. ``We hope to bring new converts to opera to our fold with this, the first of what we hope will be a string of successful productions.''
Besides Elvira in the Figaro part, Billings native Douglas Nagel also stars. Other national singers joining the cast are Curt Peterson, a native of Wyoming, William O. Beeman, from Kansas, Anne Basinski and David Cody, a husband and wife team from Missoula. The company will begin intensive rehearsals Monday in Billings, and has been working individually on the parts of the opera whole for months. ``Most of these people have sung years and years and all are familiar with the roles they'll be performing in Billings,'' Elvira says.
Anita Rawlinson, soprano from Billings, will join the national stars to play the role of Berta, the maid.
Roberto Stivanello, from New York, is directing the production. He will be joined by Giampaolo Bracali, who hails from New York City and Italy, as the conductor of the 30-piece orchestra, including many members of the Billings Symphony Orchestra.
David Barnett, choral director at MSU-B, has been rehearsing a chorus of men from MSU-B who will also perform in the production. Thus professional stars, sets and costumes are arriving early next week from New York to complement the action on stage which will be enhanced by area singers and orchestra.
Bernie Rose from Rocky Mountain College is the stage manager for this challenging production. The production was originally booked for last year, but plans had to be carefully laid and the company decided to take another year and do it right. ``It's falling into place beautifully now, at this stage,'' said opera booster and company president, Lloyd D. Mickelson.
With this first production, the Rimrock Opera Company is realizing the dream of past generations to bring professional opera to Billings on an annual basis, he says.
Membership in the organization is invited at $500 for corporations, $150 for families and $100 for a sponsorship membership.
``Opera is one of the oldest forms of art but one of the fastest growing forms of art being pursued today, `` says Mickelson, current president of Rimrock Opera Company.
For further information, call 406-671-2214 or write to the Rimrock Opera Company at P. O. Box 11, Billings, Mont., 59103.
Tickets for the Barber of Seville are on sale at the ABT with prices ranging from $10 to $50. Phone (406) 256-6052.