The Barber of Seville

As far as I could tell, my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Marion Chadwick[1], was obsessed with two things:  choral music and math.  5th grade was particularly memorable for me because for the first – and last – time in my K-12 trek through the Bellevue public school system, I became a teacher’s pet.

This warm relationship with Mrs. Chadwick was not due principally to my math skills, which I remember to be amongst the better of us kids in class but clearly not at prodigy levels.  No, it was because of my lovely pre-adolescent singing voice.  I was the only boy in class who would sing out loudly and in key.  There was courage in that for a 5th grade boy, and I rather liked the appreciation it engendered from not only the teacher, but a certain tall, bespectacled girl named Marcy.

Mind you, I didn’t act solely to advance Marcy’s admiration per se, but it was a boost for the ego. I felt, along with her, like an intelligent, capable, and well-mannered kid.

One sunny spring day, Mrs. Chadwick announced that she arranged for us an outing to the Seattle Center to attend a live performance at the Opera House of Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.” I was quite excited by the notion of driving to the big city to attend a classical performance in an ornate show hall. 

I got all dressed up for the actual event.  Even had on slacks, a sports jacket, and tie – perhaps for the first time in my life.  Mrs. Chadwick had our seat assignments arranged and I was placed in an aisle seat. My neighbor to the right was a petit dark-haired beauty named Melanie.  Even by 5th Grade, there emerged differences between the cool kids, pushing adolescence, and shy nerds like me.  Prior to “The Barber” Melanie had not given me a look or thought.  But as we walked together and sat together for hours, she generously gave me her attention. 

I knew Melanie to have a middle school boyfriend.  I was pretty sure she had actually kissed a boy. She was out of my league and I hadn’t even entered a league to be out of. But for the next couple of years, we at least had “The Barber” as a connection.

I asked Mom and Dad to buy me that opera album and I played it repeatedly. Not exactly a coming-of-age story, but every time I hear “The Barber,” I think of a sweet moment when a nerd and a hot chick shared a dollop of haute culture together. 

[1] Little was I to know that after retirement Marion Chadwick would become a champion swimmer!

11 thoughts on “The Barber of Seville

  1. I especially loved your line, “She was out of my league and I hadn’t even entered a league to be out of.” A very clever line in a sweet story.


  2. Keep them coming Daniel.My first trip to the Opera House was not the Barber of Seville. My Aunt Myrtle took me to see Liberace! As I recall we had really good seats.After the incredibly glitzy show, we lined up in a hall outside the green room to meet him for autographs. He signed my program “To my friend Jim.” I don’t know if my piano teacher was as equally impressed.JimSent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


  3. That’s a hilarious memory, Jim.

    For some reason – completely escapes me – I actually obsessed on Liberace for awhile as a kid Read about his background in classical music training. Saw him as one of the great underappreciated artists!


  4. Was your Barber in 1962, the year of the World’s Fair? My parents took me to my first serious musical outing in the 7th grade and it was The Barber of Seville at the Opera House. They had planned dinner out after the performance but I was so sleepy that we just stopped at Dag’s on Aurora for a quick burger and then the long drive (pre-I-5) to Federal Way.

    You bring back some seldom dusted memories.



  5. KING-FM broadcasts operas from 9-noon every Saturday. The program, going back over Seattle Opera Seasons, , has included Barber. Adelante!

    Sent from my iPhone



  6. Wait. I looked it up. It was September 1966. Shh. don’t tell anyone. But I got it completely wrong. I was in Mrs. Swift’s 6th grade class and not Mrs. Chadwick’s.

    But the Melanie part was correct!


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