THE BARBER OF SEVILLE – Pop Up Opera
Summer tour to 30 July.
Music by Gioachino Rossini.
Libretto by Cesare Sterbini.
Surtitles by Harry Percival.
Thames Tunnel Shaft, Rotherhithe, London SE16 4LF 21 June 2016.
Runs 2hr 30 mins One Interval.
Tour dates at end.
Review: William Russell 21 June.
Sparkling Rossini with surtitles to relish
After a brief and successful foray into the dramatic earlier this year with I Capuletti e I Montecci – Romeo and Juliet to you – Pop Up Opera is back on familiar territory. Their forte has been comedy and this staging by James Hurley is very funny indeed. It had the audience in the Brunel’s Tunnel Shaft, a slightly tricky place for its acoustic, on its feet at the end and deservedly so.
It was quite a dramatic evening as the tenor playing Almaviva, Ciaran O’Leary, suffered an allergic reaction and was replaced in Act two by Joseph Doody. Both sang splendidly and there was indication in the first half of any problem.
The company fields two casts who play different venues. It made no difference. The Rosina I saw, Katie Slater, sparkled brilliantly, and the comedy was in safe hands with Leif Jone Olberg in fine voice as Figaro. If there is a flaw it is simply that the Bartolo, James Schouten, was actually rather handsome – this is a young company – so it was not altogether clear why his ward wanted Almaviva, whom she hardly knew, instead.
As the downtrodden maid, Berta, Emily Blanch, who will be in all the performances, is hilarious and when she gets her aria she goes at it with a will in high style. Barrak Dyer, the company’s musical director, accompanied at the piano to great effect and the result was everything Rossini could have wished for.
One of the pleasures of Pop Up Opera are Harry Percival’s surtitles, often highly disrespectful but invariably amusing. The setting was more or less today and that meant some nicely contemporary jokes which work, not on the page so no spoilers, but in performance and while the cast sing in Italian it does add to the comedy. All to often more exact translations for surtitles leave one wondering why anybody found the libretto funny in the first place. The other delight, although you have to go more than once, is how they adapt to the varying venues – with alacrity and style is the answer.
Rosina: Flora McIntosh/Katie Slater.
Count Almaviva: Ciaran O’Leary/Joseph Doody.
Figaro: Tom Stoddart/Leif Jone Olberg.
Bartolo: Alistair Ollerenshaw/James Schouten.
Basilio/Fiiorello: Tom Asher/Steven East.
Berta: Emily Blanch.
Director: James Hurley.
Musical Director: Barrak Dyer.
Performances 7,30 pm unless otherwise stated,
24 June – Christ Church, Chorley Wood, Rickmansworth WD3 5SG.
30 June – The Corn Barn, Sutton Barton, Devon EX15 1NF.
1 July: Beaminster School, Beaminster, Dorset DT8 3EP.
6 July – Lower Grenofen, Tavistock, Dartmoor, Devon PL19 9ES.
7 July – 8 pm Culter’s Hall, Cabot Circus, Bristol BS1 3DF.
9 July – Kingsland Church, Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 9QW.
12 July – London Museum of Water and Steam, Brentford, London TW8 0EN.
14 July – Bath Function Rooms, Green Park, Bath BA1 1JB.
15 July – Three Choirs Vineyard, Castle Tump, Gloucestershire GL18 1LS.
17 July – 4pm Broome Farm Cider Barn, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire HR9 6OG.
20 July – Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent ME17 1PL.
22 July – St Margaret’s Church, Leigh Deleamere, Wiltshire SN14 6IZ.
23 July – Court Farm, Hereford, Herefordshire HR4 8LG.
27 July – The Flavel, Dartmouth, Devon TQ6 9ND.
30 July – Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth, Dorset BH5 1LX.