March 3, 2013

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THE BARBER OF SEVILLE. Rossini. English National Opera

Two centuries after its premiere this comic masterpiece – Rossini’s prequel to The Marriage of Figaro remains as tuneful, ironic and uproariously funny as ever. Set in an elegant comic-opera vision of 18th-century Seville, Jonathan Miller’s Tiepolo-inspired staging brilliantly intercuts the traditions of the Italian commedia dell’arte and the Whitehall farce to create a delightful evening of musical and comedy enjoyment.

8512401075_51eea48f23_bThis revival with set and costumes from designer Tanya McCallin is exactly as Puchhi would have envisioned and it looks delightful, all faded glamour,  evocative costumes and fancy rococo tables. I loved watching it as much as I enjoyed listening to it.

BArberIt’s laugh out loud funny too and it’s been a while since I’ve seen a production of the Barber that’s made me laugh on many levels, the comic acting is first class and Andrew Shore simply steals the show with his pompous lecherous Dr Bartolo, his ruthless timing and little delightful flourishes bringing laughter from the audience time and time again, he was a joy to watch from the moment he came on stage. Lucy Crow as Rosia gave one of those stunning performances showing off her pure coloratura with an effortless grace that was enchanting she got the flirtatious naughty attitude of Rosina  just right too. They were a pair from heaven, well matched and very funny when together.

8512399753_6f750a0d3b_bBenedict Nelson’s Figaro was slow to start but once he got into his stride he shone, his voice is tremendous, lyrical and resonant and he managed the often tricky libretto with skill. He’s a bit too clean cut rather than as sly and crafty as Figaro needs to be, but his stage presence is magnificent. There was a slight mishap when tenor Andrew Kennedy was taken suddenly ill and had to be replaced by Tyler Clarke which took half an hour but when they resumed it was with a well timed joke which delighted everyone.  Tyler did very well and the audience seemed pleased with his portrayal of the Count, he kept up to speed with the tightly choreographed comedy while bringing his own lighter touch to the singing too. Well done that man.

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The comedy is supported by the witty translation too, although it’s sometimes a little too wordy, the surtitles make sure we got all the jokes, there were some delightful rhymes and pithy insults, my companion giggled her way throughout the entire night. The talented flautist-turned-conductor Jaime Martin, here making his operatic debut, brings an authentic Hispanic touch to the orchestra who played well and kept the music bounding along with a light frothy sparkle.

This was a fun and enjoyable night out at the ENO, full of laughter and delightful performances and the added fireworks of Lucy Crows voice. I’d recommend this production for a first timer or for someone with a more traditional taste in opera as it will leave you humming and smiling all the way home.



London Coliseum

Tickets from £19

Performances on Tue 5, Thu 7, Sat 9, Wed 13, Fri 15 and Sat 17 of March

For more info or to book tickets see the ENO website here: