THE BARBER OF SEVILLE: Gioacchino Rossini, English trans Kelley Rourke

On Tour, Runs approx. 3h, one interval

Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 20 11 15, Birmingham Hippodrome

An energetic and witty barber in an energetic and witty BARBER

WNO’s production of this Rossini favourite, in Sam Brown’s production, is full of wit and energy. The plot may be dusty, but the whole thing has been given a good shake and the opera emerges as a sparkling delight. That it’s performed in English helps release the comedy too; allusions to the less desirable qualities of modern opera may have meant something to Rossini’s’ audiences . . . and they certainly resonate today.

Kelley Rourke’s English translation adds much to the fun; Bartolo’s opening to the second half receives a well deserved warm reaction: ‘Something’s going on’.

I confess that sometimes I find WNO’s singers’ acting to be less that strong; but this BARBER team come up trumps. (The recent SWEENEY TODD was also superbly strongly acted.) All performances, as well as being well sung, are strongly characterised and underpinned with the same spirit of wit that marks the production.

Extra special is Nico Darmanin’s Almaviva. He enters into his various disguises with verve and infectious naughtiness. His voice is in great form, light and easefully encompassing the melodies with a bright sparkle.

Claire Booth as Rosina is certainly knowing, nicely portraying Rosina as her own woman. As Figaro, Nicholas Lester completes the trio. He is an immensely likeable Figaro, engaging us with natural charm. These three together are wonderful, their voices knitting together as closely as their relationships.

A word, too, for Andrew Shore’s Bartolo. He presents us with the villain, yes, but touches it with a delicious sardonic humour.

Under James Southall’s baton the whole moves along with seductive speed, aided by Ralph Koltai’s splendid and smoothly moving settings. And for the icing on this delicious cake, Sue Blane’s equally delicious and funny costumes.

(Credits to follow)

2016-03-07 21:25:30

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