‘The Barber of Seville’ marks retirement for BYU professor

Ari Davis
Figaro, played by Stephen Pace, sings about being the town’s barber and being a jack of all trades. “The Barber of Seville” is the last production for director Lawrence Vincent who is retiring. (Ari Davis)

BYU School of Music’s spring opera, “The Barber of Seville,” is the last production before the retirement of professor and director of the opera, Lawrence Vincent.

Vincent has taught at BYU since 1997 after a performance career of 17 years in America, Germany and Vienna, Austria.

“The Barber of Seville” was the first professional opera Vincent performed in and is now his last opera to direct before he retires June 17.

Vincent said he’s excited for retirement. He plans to stay involved in opera through workshops and the occasional project but wants to spend time with his family and possibly serve a mission.

It felt weird for Vincent to come to BYU because of how freely he could talk about the gospel on campus, something he said he couldn’t do while in the professional performing world. Vincent said he’ll miss open discussions about the gospel, his colleagues and his students, especially watching them develop their skills.

“It’s a thrill for me to see how students implement things they’ve learned in classes, in the opera workshop class, and during our rehearsals and to see how their performances improve by using these rules,” Vincent said.

Vincent said BYU has one of the longest running opera programs west of the Mississippi and he hopes to see the program continue. His love of opera influenced the program and the students he’ll leave behind.

Cast members Tyler Yarbrough, who plays Bartolo, and Annie Powell, who plays Rosina on June 14 and June 16, said Vincent’s knowledge and direction make the rehearsal process enjoyable.

“Rehearsal time is very precise, but at the same time it’s really fun because he has so many ideas,” Yarbrough said. “Most of the time he wants to make it fun, he wants to make everyone laugh, and so it’s very enjoyable.”

Powell said she enjoys Vincent’s enthusiasm for opera.

“Working with Dr. Vincent is a lot of fun because he’s very animated, he’s also very inspiring, he loves what he does,” Powell said. “He’s just a very good mentor as far as stage movement goes and inspiring you and motivating you to be better and do better.”

Vincent has done research about the BYU opera program and said BYU has only performed “The Barber of Seville” once before in a small theater. This time the opera is a mainstage production in the de Jong Concert Hall.

Ari Davis
Figaro, left, played by Stephen Pace, makes plans with Count Almaviva disguised as Lindoro, right, played by Benjamin Bird. The two create a plan for the Count to meet up with the woman he loves, Rosina, played by Annie Powell. (Ari Davis)

The comedic opera, with music by Gioachino Rossino and libretto by Cesare Sterbini, follows the story of Count Almaviva, Figaro, Rosina and Bartolo. Count Almaviva loves Rosina, but Rosina lives with her guardian, Bartolo, who tries to prevent her from meeting with the count. The count uses several disguises and the help of the barber, Figaro, to meet with Rosina and express his love. Comedic encounters of romance, deceit and confusion ensue.

BYU’s production features projected subtitles on the side of the stage so audience members can understand the comical Italian text.

The cast had only six weeks to put together the difficult opera, according to Vincent. The opera, which Vincent said is one of the most famous in opera repertoire, features complex staging and difficult orchestration.

“This was a major work and the students worked hard and I think they’ve done a good job,” Vincent said.

Both Yarbrough and Powell said they enjoyed watching the production come together.

“The best is when it comes all together, and it becomes a show that is entertaining, fun and unifying,” Powell said.

“The Barber of Seville” runs June 14-17 in the de Jong Concert Hall. More information can be found at arts.byu.edu.

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