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The Barber of Seville 2011/10/28

Posted by Daddy Dave in fun, Music, nights out, Reviews.
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[The Barber of Seville poster Scottish Opera]Last night, Mummy Ruth and I went to see The Barber of Seville at the Theatre Royal, although I guess as it was sung in Italian (despite being set in Spain), it ought to have been called Il barbiere di Siviglia, but anyway.

Now, it has to be said that I saw The Barber of Seville done in Glasgow way back in the early 1990s, and was blown away.  It set the benchmark for me I suppose.  I am as much a Rossini fan as anyone else, although I like to claim a little  more due to the fact that I made a pilgrimage to his tomb in The Basilica of Santa Croce in Firenze some years ago with my old pals Annabel and Disie.

This opera did not disappoint, but it was certainly very different. This is Sir Thomas Allen’s 80’s version brought back, and it was more traditional in its staging and setting — don’t get me wrong; I like that.  I am not always looking to be challenged by The Arts, sometimes I just want to enjoy what The Thing It Is, if you know what I mean.

Okay, Finnish Tenor, Ville Rusanen was really good, but I am afraid that the rest of the cast was so good, so strong, that his Figaro role was less powerful than I am used to.  But I tell you what, his voice blended beautifully in Act II with the others.

Mummy Ruth thought that Don Basilio stood out most.  She thought Graeme Broadbent acted the most and the best, and I have to agree that his rich bass was just gorgeous.  However, I had a lot of time for tenor Tiziano Bracci  as Doctor Bartolo, even though he was done up to look like that bloke off the telly (Gio Compario  aka Welsh Tenor Wynne Evans in the Go Compare adverts). The Doctor is a key role, and Bracci nailed it, quite frankly. It was in safe hands, and carried off with confident, professional aplomb and panache. Job done.

The star of the show probably turned out to be tenor Thomas Walker as Count Almaviva — he was actually pretty funny as he disguised himself as a creepy clergyman, with false teeth and a weird affected voice. I would imagine that the audience will remember all  his stuff over everything else.  In a few years time, that might be all I can recall myself. Having said that, he was funny, and it was very well done.

We both have a soft spot for English Soprano and rising opera star Claire Booth. She was on the finest of  forms last night.  Rosina is not a demanding acting role, so I don’t think she was pushed in that respect.

The thing about The Barber of Seville is that it has a rubbish plot, really — and so there are no deathbed arias, or BIG SONGS. The Barber of Seville is weird in that respect – it really is about the music and the singing, and to my mind, the difficult melisma and the general bel canto stuff, along with the harmonies in duets, trios, and more, make this a tricky work of art.

Hats off to everyone, Act I had some shaky starts, but as it settled down, Act II was a real triumph.  There was a teeny timing issue during one of the more complex pieces, but overall it was a really good night out.

It was sung in Italian, but there are English supertitles if you want to know what they are singing about, it seemed to us that this would make a really good entry level opera, despite the recitatives and failings in the big hit tenor or soprano aria department.  It is a night out, a hoot, a wonderful, unchallenging evening of wonderful music.  catch it if you can!

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