Il Barbiere di Siviglia
by Gioachino Rossini Conductor, Arthur Fagen Stage Director, Nicholas Muni Set & Costume Design, C. David Higgins
Indiana University Musical Arts Center
C. David Higgins is a master scenic artist and staff designer for Indiana University Opera Theater, where he has worked since the Musical Arts Center opened, in 1971.
The theater opens its 2010-2011 season with a new production of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, The Barber of Seville. Higgins designed all of the sets and costumes.
Are there any basic ‘have-tos,’ or requirements, in a staging of Rossini’s Barber of Seville? Higgins says, “That’s a hard question to answer. There are conceptual productions, stagings that shift time and place. However, this is a relatively traditional approach. We have to have a garden, a balcony upon which the heroine, Rosina, can display herself and from which she can be rescued, and also the interior of her guardian Dr. Bartolo’s house.“
In this production there is an extra, unusual ‘have-to,’ suggested by stage director Nicholas Muni. “He’s asked us to create a real barber shop for Figaro, so the audience will actually see him busily involved in his work place.
“Muni is concerned with the contrast between the historically older and more progressive elements in Siviglia around 1815. In our design, we’ll show the rather static surroundings of Dr. Bartolo and the more energetic interior of Figaro’s shop.”
“As costume designer, I continue the concern for contrast as I manipulate color, texture and style to fit and even describe characters. Old Dr. Bartolo is very much in black, and brown. Even the interior of his house is drab. His ward Rosina does wear a grey cloak, but at one point the audience will see that she’s wearing something much more colorful underneath.”
As for the title character, “Figaro is clad as a dashing figure. The Prince actually gets the most attention from the designer and the costume shop. He first appears as a student, and later infiltrates Dr. Bartolo’s home first as a drunken soldier and then as a substantially more sober music teacher. He makes his final appearance in princely garb.”