Hannah Richardson reviews The Barber of Seville, at Milton Keynes Theatre
I am deeply envious of the reviewer sitting next to me at Tuesday night’s performance of The Barber of Seville.
While I had decided only to attend the first of the Welsh National Opera’s Figaro trilogy – on stage at Milton Keynes Theatre all this week – she was planning to see all three.
And by the end of the first ‘installment’, and depite a numb rear end from nearly three hours on theatre seats, I was kicking myself for not doing likewise.
The WNO is performing three operas involving the figure of Figaro the barber, during this week.
The Barber of Seville is repeated on Friday night, The Marriage of Figaro is repeated on Saturday, and tonight, Thursday, opera enthusiasts can see the world premiere of Figaro Gets a Divorce by Russian-born British composer Elena Langer with a libretto by WNO’s artistic director David Pountney.
The Barber of Seville begins the story, with its characters and music inspired by the comedy by Beaumarchais.
It is directed by young British theatre director and comic opera specialist Sam Brown, making his WNO debut, with the Welsh National Opera Orchestra conducted by James Southall.
Australian-born baritone Nicholas Lester makes his WNO debut in the role of the scheming Figaro.
Andrew Shore reprises his recent role with English National Opera as ‘dirty old man’ Bartolo, who plans to marry his beautiful ward Rosina, sung by British soprano Claire Booth, and get his hands on her fortune.
Tenor Nico Darmanin takes the role of her lover, Count Almaviva,
And bass Richard Wiegold is the blind music teacher, Basilio (with his blind guide dog).
If you don’t know the opera, The Barber of Seville is not ‘High Art’.
What this performance is though, is a lot of fun.
The singing was great – as you would expect from the WNO – and the performance was a highly entertaining romp.
It’s sung in English with English surtitles – which sometimes came in handy, as Darmanin struggled to get his tongue round the difficult English vowels.
Yes, I have questions. Why was Rosina flaunting herself in the window wearing an emerald basque at the opera’s opening, for instance?
But I’m not going to be picky because my abiding memory will remain one of a really fun night out.
I only wish I had planned to see the other shows as well – I’d love to see what the very talented cast make of two quite different operas.
For tickets, call 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes