QUAYS News entertainment reporter Coral Jade Daniels went to watch ‘The Barber of Seville’ at The Lowry theatre in Salford last night, this is what she thought of it…

The Barber of Seville has been recreated so many times since its first performance in Rome, in 1816, that it seemed impossible anyone could still do it justice. However, Opera North’s co-production with Welsh National Opera at The Lowry is proof that it can be done to a great standard with a refreshing tiered set design.

The Barber of Seville is an opera buffa in two acts (in other words it’s funny) set in the Spanish town Seville. It is here that we are introduced to Count Almaviva, played well by Nicholas Watts, who saw the heiress Rosina in Madrid and followed her to Seville in the hope of winning her affections. This is why Count Almaviva seeks the “genius” of the town’s busy-body Figaro (the barber of Seville), who acts as a go-between as Rosina and the Count write secret letters to each other. The only problem is that her guardian, Doctor Bartolo, who Rosina calls a “decrepit Casanova” plans on marrying her so that he gets her inheritance; leading to some rather dubious disguises when the Count poses as the poor soldier Lindoro and the substitute music teacher Don Alonso to make physical contact with Rosina.

The complexity develops even more in the second act as false identities confuse almost all of the characters involved, which lends itself to comedy through this dramatic irony, which is only heightened by the ambitious Figaro, performed confidently by Gavan Ring. He can often be seen spying on Bartolo, who is at times offensive in his private discussions about Figaro’s part in the Count’s pursuit of his ward – not realising that Figaro is actually hiding in the same room.

The true greatness of this production is that it has retained the beauty and humour of the originals – despite being translated into English. Although, at a first glance, it may sound as if it is Italian with the actors singing with a relatively authentic Italian accent. It is this that makes tonight’s performance frustrating, because the orchestra, whilst executing the composition to a high standard, did often over-power the characters, so much that at times they could not be heard at all.

The over-powering of the orchestra was not enough to ruin the performance but it did understandably cause irritation for audience members, who may have missed the comedic highlights found in the lyrics. One of these moments comes from Bartolo who claims opera is “foreign rubbish”, whilst appearing in the operatic production, when he reminisces the music from his youth when boys would play sopranos, which is where he humorously impersonates a soprano voice; to the dismay of Rosina and Don Alonso.

When the curtain call came it was obvious who the favourites were, as Figaro got some cheers of appreciation amongst the applause and so did the other main characters. In short, this was an enjoyable evening with only minor mishaps preventing it from being fantastic.

The Barber of Seville approved 2By: Coral Jade Daniels

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