Dayton Opera to present Rossini’s
The Barber of Seville

Rosina (Alyssa Martin) and Count Almaviva (Carlos Enrique Santelli) get an earful from Figaro (Jarrett Ott) during rehearsal

By Eric Street  |  Rehearsal Photos By Scott Robbins

“Figaro! Figaro! FI-GA-RO!”

Mischief and matchmaking run wild when opera’s most famous barber returns to Dayton’s Schuster Center Mar. 2 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Mar. 4 at 3 p.m. Director Kathleen Clawson has no doubts about Dayton Opera’s upcoming Barber of Seville. “It’s everything I go to the opera for! There’s spectacular music, the parts require really great singers, and there’s a fabulous story—it’s timeless and incredibly funny…There are so many situations in this production that will remind you of the old-time great comedy shows and comedians—things you might see Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, and Tim Conway presenting,” says Clawson.

“Whether you know it or not, most people have encountered The Barber of Seville, if only through snatches of its infectious melodies that permeate commercials and pop culture, or maybe through Bugs Bunny’s comic spoof The Rabbit of Seville,” adds Dayton Opera Artistic Director Thomas Bankston. “Once you’ve heard it, even a snatch of it, you’re hooked!”

After a famously disastrous opening night that left the composer in tears, the Barber of Seville survived to become the most famous comic opera ever written. It’s impossible to resist Rossini’s sparkling score, combined with his unforgettable characters—irrepressible Figaro, love-smitten Almaviva, sly Rosina, crotchety Dr. Bartolo, and pretentious Don Basilio, Rosina’s windbag voice teacher.

Who should come? “Everyone!” responds Bankston without hesitation. “It’s the ultimate first opera experience for audiences of all ages.” “This might really be the perfect first opera,” Clawson agrees. “It’s so funny and the music is so great! There’s a reason it’s been popular for 200 years…I think now, more than ever, we need to laugh. We go to the theatre for catharsis, and laughter is a part of that. In a time when there is such division, we can sit together in a dark space, all laughing together. We can use a lot more of that.”

“We’ve chosen a lovely and traditional production from the Sarasota Opera. It will capture a very sunny and Spanish atmosphere that will transport you to 17th century Spain,” explains Bankston. “We literally will be bubbling over with young, vibrant, debuting artists who will charm and delight you—our Figaro, Jarrett Ott, Rosina, Alyssa Martin, and Count Almaviva, Carlos Enrique Santelli, are all making exciting roles as well as company debuts in this production.”

“I’m especially thrilled we get to introduce these up-and-coming young singers,” says Clawson. “I think years from now people from Dayton will be able to say, ‘I saw them the first time they sang that role!’ The conductor, Clinton Smith, is also a Santa Fe conductor, and he’s someone the world’s going to hear of!”

The roster is impressive. Kathleen Clawson returns for her eleventh engagement with Dayton Opera. She’s directed productions here since 2009, including last season’s delightful Abduction from the Seraglio. Clawson heads Musical Theatre at the University of New Mexico, and works with some of America’s most talented young singers as Assistant Director of the Apprentice Program for Singers at Santa Fe Opera.

Clinton Smith, Music Director of Orchestra Seattle, commands the podium for the first time at Dayton Opera to conduct the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Smith is on the music staff of the Santa Fe Opera, where he most recently conducted Die Fledermaus and Handel’s Alcina.

Named by Opera News as one of twenty-five Rising Stars, baritone Jarrett Ott takes the demanding pivotal role of Figaro. Ott has performed leading roles across the country and recently made his European debut at Deutsche Opera Berlin.

Rosina is mezzo-soprano Alyssa Martin. Also hailed by Opera News, Martin is an Apprentice Artist at Santa Fe Opera, and she debuts at Kennedy Center this upcoming season. As a young vocalist, Martin won the prestigious Dayton Opera Guild College Vocal Competition.

Carlos Enrique Santelli takes the romantic tenor role of Count Almaviva. This summer he made his principal role debut with Santa Fe Opera as Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor. Santelli is also a past winner of the Dayton Opera Guild College Vocal Competition.

As Dr. Bartolo, bass-baritone Thomas Hammons returns to Dayton Opera for a tenth production. He’s been acclaimed across North America and Europe for the strength and beauty of his singing. A versatile singing actor, Hammons has an active repertoire of over 60 roles spanning classical buffo repertoire to musical theater.

Praised for “an impressive focus, carrying power and quiet charisma” by the New York Times, bass Harold Wilson takes the stage as Don Basilio. Wilson has performed around the globe, including roles at Deutsche Opera Berlin and the Metropolitan Opera.  He returns to Dayton this May as Timur in Puccini’s Turandot.

Three Dayton Opera Artists-in-Residence will also appear.  Mezzo-soprano Noragh Devlin sings Berta, Rosina’s confidante. Tenor Michael Anderson debuts as the Sergeant. Baritone Alexander Harper performs the role of Fiorello, and Jake Lockwood appears as Ambrogio, Dr. Bartolo’s servant. The versatile men of the Dayton Opera Chorus return under the direction of Chorus Master Jeffrey Powell.

Both performances are sung in Italian and super-titled in English so you won’t miss a word of the fun!

The Barber of Seville will be presented on Mar. 2 and Mar. 4 at The Schuster Center, 1 West Second St., Dayton. Tickets range from $28 to $94 and are available at or by calling Ticket Center Stage at 937.228.3630. Senior, student, and military discounts are available. For more ticket or subscription information, visit

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Eric Street is Professor of Music at UD with a doctorate from Indiana University. His Carnegie Hall debut led to performances in 36 countries on six continents. An opera lover, he’s taught Opera History and accompanied over two-dozen singers from the Metropolitan and NYC Opera. Reach him at

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