- November 7, 2021
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The cast of WNO’s The Barber of Seville. (L-R: Lester, Lowe, centre top, Shore, sat, and Darmanin)
OVER 200 years since its first performance, opera The Barber of Seville arrived with a bang at Southampton’s Mayflower last night, November 5.
The Welsh National Opera, who celebrated 75 years in April, revived Gioachino Rossini’s 205-year-old melodramatic opera.
Set in 18th century Spain, the plot follows the unfolding romance between Count Almaviva (Nico Darmanin), who has a penchant for disguises, and Rosina (Heather Lowe), the ward of the controlling physician, Dr. Bartolo (Andrew Shore), her guardian who intends to marry her.
This story is one that has been told many times before, and many aspects of the opera mirror themes from Shakespeares work, especially those which lie in his comedies (e.g. trickery and deceit which are eventually thwarted by love).
However, what makes this opera stand apart from other artisitic works is the role of the barber, Figaro (Nicholas Lester).
Figaro is the mischevious and scheming character that brings the opera to life, whether that be by devising ways to outwit Bartolo or delivering a well-sung witty remark.
Almaviva enlists the help of Figaro, and through a series of comical events and deception Figaro takes on the role of matchmaker.
Running for nearly three hours, this comedic opera swept me along and I was thoroughly engaged and amused by the story, as well as mightily impressed by the singing.
Many soloists kept the comedy lively and light whilst boasting incredibly strong vocals.
As Rosina, Heather Lowe’s mezzo soprano was well projected, her graceful presence dominating the stage as her music calls for space and freedom.
Andrew Shore’s canterkerous Dr Bartolo was strong with caricature and was excellently delivered.
It’s worth noting that no single charcter on that stage was less powerful or prominent than the other.
Every character packed a punch and small, entertaining, details did not go amiss.
This is the perfect feel-good opera and its charming addition of breaking the fourth wall at the end of the performance with the delivery of promising to ‘leave the rest to Mozart’ was an amusing end to a hilarious performance.
The Barber of Seville is sung in English.
The final performance at The Mayflower takes place at 2pm today, November 6.
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