Friday night live: Mrs. Scatter gets a curl

By Laura Grimes

Mrs. Scatter is considerably fond of facial hair, and Mr. Scatter’s beard in particular, so she’s concerned what type of shave he has in mind. Let’s hope it’s the farcical kind because we’re blogging in tandem tonight about The Barber of Seville. That’s right, folks …

Live from Portland Opera, it’s Scattering Night!

We’ll be updating our posts as the night goes on, so check back, scroll down and see what’s new!


Two hours until Curtain Time: This is a test photo from The Wimpy Camera:

Mr. Scatter in his home office

In the meantime, I’ve been boning up:

  • This is the second barber show in two nights for the Scatter Family. On Thursday night, they ventured to see Sweeney Todd at Grant High School.
  • The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini premiered in 1816 … the same year  Jane Austen’s Emma was published.
  • Jennifer Rivera, who plays Rosina, has a kick-in-the-pants blog, and the videos are not to be missed.
  • Bob Kingston, who gives the pre-performance talks at Portland Opera, shared this podcast from LA Opera.
  • The blog at Portland Opera by Operaman, otherwise known as Stephen Llewellyn, is personable and insightful about opera in general.
  • And, thanks to Operaman, that’s where I found my most useful resource, though stink if I can get it to embed:

Warner Bros. presents \”Barber of Seville\”


The wine has arrived, the personal nuts, the pretzels, the cookies …

Laura Hassell, Portland Opera’s director of production (or “POD for short,” she said), was our tour guide for the back stage tour. Barber of Seville was the first opera she ever stage managed. The stage is set up like a large theater and behind the curtain? A large portrait of Rossini. All the characters pay homage to him.

What else? Marionettes.

As Hassell described it: “The idea is that Rossini is playing with all the characters.”

The set and costumes are from Minnesota Opera, which co-produced it with Washington National Opera. Christopher Mattaliano, general director of Portland Opera and stage director of this show, did the original stage direction for Minnesota. It’s the first time the set and costumes have appeared in Portland.

Four strings of lights in four different colors line the walls. They’re the light cues to signal what to do when on stage. The rigging is an “arbor” system, which I don’t entirely understand, but I’ll have to look up later. Before the clever light and arbor system were designed — in the olden days — the rigging was sandbags. Like in cartoons. A lot of sailors became riggers and used a whistle system. And that’s why it’s bad luck to whistle in a theater. You could get sandbagged.

A big blue machine has dry ice and a bunch of water that’s heating up. An electronic system automatically drops the dry ice into the water on cue. Unlike a lot of tour shows that sometimes use chemicals, opera productions only use dry ice to protect the voices of the singers.

Bob Kingston dropped by with his new bald look. He got his head shaved for St. Baldrick’s Day and brought in $515 in donations. Highlights from his pre-performance talk and other fun tidbits he shared:

  • Rossini had a limited amount of time to write it. He wrote it in a little over 2 weeks. He got paid 400 Scudi (plural for Scudo and in 1967 it was worth $3.17).
  • Premiere was a complete fiasco, part 1. The tenor who sang the role of Count Almaviva brought out a guitar, which wasn’t tuned. Figaro came out with a guitar and the audience thought it was going to be another guitar mishap.
  • Premiere was a complete fiasco, part 2. First opera of Barber of Seville was done by Paisiello. The new production by Rossini had his blessing but his fans didn’t like it and caused a ruckus.
  • The opera is never out of repertoire. For decades and decades when people thought of comic opera, they thought of the Barber of Seville.
  • Bob Kingston’s personal favorite part: Finale to Act 1. “It’s musical organized chaos, 8 or 9 minutes of a wonderful scene and a cumulative dramatic and comic intensity.” (Now I can’t wait to hear it.)
  • What else did Bob Kingston say about the opera? “It’s like musical champagne.”

Time’s running out. Will have to share more later about Portland Opera’s Muffy the Mascot. I’m not sure whether it’s a boy or a girl, but here it is:



The good thing about blogging during intermission: You don’t have to stand in line to get refreshments. You get back to your table and the wine glass gets magically refilled.

The bad news about blogging during intermission: You don’t get a bathroom break.

The report so far: A rollicking good time.

Fun dialogue I wrote down, both by Figaro:

  • “I’m the factotum for all of Seville.” (Anytime you can write factotum is a good thing.)
  • “The cheese has fallen on the spaghetti.”

Brandi Parisi from All Classical, who’s sitting next to me, is definitely the celeb attraction at the blog table tonight.

Last time Mr. Scatter did this, he had Storm Large next to him, and she was definitely the magnet. I’m sorry to say, for Mr. Scatter’s case, that I definitely don’t have the, um, shelf life, of Storm.

And with that I hear we have 3 minutes until the next curtain.


The show’s over and the nuts are nearly gone. Honestly, we work for peanuts.

The way you make peace with this thing is you just accept the fact that the posts are random impressions. So here are some more:

— We keep our computers on while we watch the show. So it was great coming back during intermission and having a pop-up message from the Small Large Smelly Boy that said: “Mommy, why are you on Facebook when you’re at the opera?”

— Great cast, wonderful voices, colorful costumes, hilarious shtick. I’ve been voyeuristically following the behind-the-scenes rumblings about the cast on Facebook and personal blogs (even before I knew I was going to do this gig), and it’s been a kick to see how well they get along and what fun they have together. It shows on stage.

A few choice lines:

  • “Drop dead and stay dead!”
  • “This place is a nut house!”
  • “One rages, the other rants — they make a good pair.”
  • “What is this thing called ‘love’ that makes everyone crazy?”

And (spoiler alert!) the wedding toast:

  • “May love and eternal faith reign forever in your hearts.”

Here’s a pic of our little family mascot JoJo sitting on one of the props behind stage:


Good night!