The Barker of Seville


Objectives     To introduce an opera singer as a positive and identifiable role model.

                     To stress the social value of hard work, self discipline and perseverance in goal completion.

                     To introduce children to a dramatic theatre presentation using puppets as an aesthetic art form.


THE BARKER OF SEVILE is a musical comedy about 2 aspiring young opera singers named Rufus Raindog and Rosa Bush.  Rufus and Rosa work in a restaurant while auditioning and practicing; preparing themselves for a real opera role.  At one audition Rosa gets a small part while Rufus runs afoul of the melodramatically sinister Leonardo Vespucci Provologni Hold the Mustard Fulla Bologna, the self proclaimed “World’s Greatest Opera Singer.”  Rufus begins to doubt his abilities. 

Through the help of his teacher, the delightfully wacky Dr. Bonehead, Rufus regains his confidence, and in spite of Leonardo’s devious plot, Rufus prevails and realizes his dreams.   

THE BARKER OF SEVILLE features 9 realistic, moving mouth rod puppets and 2 actors.  Due to the melodramatic nature of Leonardo, the puppeteers encourage booing of his bad guy antics.  There is regular, well controlled audience participation throughout this production.

Pre-Show Discussion Topics

1.   What is an opera?

2.  What is the difference between an opera, a musical comedy, and a play?

3.   Could rock or rap music be used in an opera?  Can you give some examples? 

4.  Discuss the nature of puppets.  What kinds have you seen?  How is a puppet used? 

5.   Discuss the nature of theater production.  How is a puppet play different from live plays?  How is it            

     the same?

6.  Discuss the basic elements of a story.

7.   What is a goal?  What kind of goals do you have?  How can you reach them?

Pre-Show Activities

1.  Read a play or a short story.  Have different students read each part aloud.  

2.  Read books about puppetry and puppet theater.

3.   Read books about opera.


SPECIAL NOTE:  Due to staging design, the puppeteers prefer to set up on the floor instead of a raised stage.  They will need a cleared area approximately 15’ x 15’ and access to an electrical outlet.  Students may be seated either on the floor, in chairs or at tables.       





Post Show Discussion Questions

     1.  What is a puppet?  What kind did we see?

     2.  Can you name other types of puppets (e.g. hand, shadow, finger, etc.)?

     3.  Who were the 2 main characters?

     4.  Where did they work at the beginning of the show?

     5.  What is an audition?

     6.  Why wasn’t Rufus given a part in the show?

     7.  What advice did Dr. Bonehead give to Rufus?    

     8.  What was Hound Dog’s problem?  How could Rufus help him? 

     9.  What was the message behind Hound Dog’s song?

    10.  Why did Rufus decide not to go with Hound Dog?

    11.  What would you have done in Rufus’s place? Why?

    12.  Why didn’t Leonardo want Rufus to sing in the restaurant?

    13.  How did Leonardo lose his voice?

    14.  What is the difference between singing a solo and singing so low?

    15.  Was Dr. Bonehead able to help Leonardo find his voice?

    16.  Why was Leonardo stealing the fig rolls?

    17.  How did Rufus save the opera?

    18.  What were some of the kinds of dogs that you saw in the show?

    19.  What were some of the character traits of Rufus that you liked?

    20.  What did Rufus mean when he said, “It’s not so important what I do, it’s who I am inside?” 

    21.  What does the song “Have Faith in Faith” mean to you?

    22.  What made Leonardo so bad?

    23.  What do you think about the Hound Dog?  

    24.  Why do you think the title of the show was “THE BARKER OF SEVILLE?”


Post Show Activities 

     1.  Write a story about something you would like to do.  How can you accomplish it?

     2.  Listen to the “Largo a Factotum” from the Barber of Seville.

     3.  Read a book about an opera. 

     4.  Try singing everything you say.

     5.  Make a list of your goals.

     6.  Name 1 goal that you have.  List the steps you might take to reach that goal.

     7.  How many different types of music can you name?  Which is your favorite?

     8.  Write a letter to the puppeteers telling them what you thought of the show. 

     9.  Draw scenes from the show to use in an art display.

    10.  Make simple hand, finger or stick puppets.

    11.  Develop puppet skits using your puppets.



A Show of Hands: Using Puppets with Young Children, Creapeau and Richards.  Redleaf Press 10/03.   

Introduction to Puppet and Puppet-Making, David Currell.  Book Sales, 9/96.

Muppets Make Puppets, Cheryl Henson. Workman Publishing, 1994. 

Puppet Mania: The World’s Most Incredible Puppet Making Ever, John E. Kennedy. North Light Books, 


The Complete Book of Puppetry, George Latshaw.  Dover Publications 3/17/00.

The Young Person’s Guide to Opera: With Music From the Great Operas, (book and CD) Anita Ganeri &

                                                            Nicola Barber.  Harcourt Children’s Books, 10/01.

World’s Very Best Opera for Kids…in English!  CD from the Budapest Concert Orchestra, 9/03.