Alex Pierangeli, the Symphony’s Executive Director, is filling the role of Stage Manager for this year’s Mendocino Music Festival production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, a comedic opera set in 17th century Spain. The only performance is this Friday, July 17 at 8pm, and the cast and crew only have 12 days to prepare.
The director runs rehearsals, but after the first performance they are no longer in control. “It is then the stage manager’s job to make the show happen,” explained Pierangeli. This includes coordinating with the house manager, lighting and sound managers, and assistant stage manager backstage over a headset regarding starts, finishes, and stage cues.
She is also responsible for locating furniture for setting the stage, coordinating with the person projecting the Italian to English translation supertitles above the stage, and finding costumes. “All costumes came from the Performing Arts Production Alliance,” said Pierangeli, “a series of containers in Fort Bragg where costumes, properties and sets are stored from every production that has happened for years.”
The cast members for this performance are coming in from all over the country, and have a short time to rehearse together. “We lost our Count Almaviva just four days before rehearsals began,” said Pierangeli. “The person booked to play the part bowed out, and Chester Pidduck flew in from back east to replace him. Pidduck last sang the Count in English so he’s had some intense memorization to do since he was drafted in at the last minute.”
Despite the tight scheduling, Pirangeli assured us this is a production Rossini would have been proud to see. “There is nothing serious about the Barber. There is a lot of over-acting and mugging of faces and, even if you can’t understand Italian and even if you couldn’t read the supertitles, you’d still be laughing at the antics on the stage and the marvelous music and libretto.”