Barber of Seville at English National Opera
Nearly 30 years has passed since Jonathan Miller’s production of the Barber of Seville adorned the Coliseum stage of the English National Opera. The moving sets are clever, well lit, light and as relevant today as they were 3 decades ago. The biggest complement to the restaging by Peter Relton was the joy in which it was received by Jonathan Miller himself, who said ‘its brilliance is nothing to do with me!’ Relton has found comedy and humour where previously there was none, in this 18th century Seville setting.
It was also well conducted by the British Conductor, Hillary Griffiths, who is also the Chief Conductor of the Prague State Opera. His was a careful reading of the score, but giving us a pacey interpretation of the music, which was well in tune with the artists.
The Figaro of the Australian baritone, Morgan Pearse, returns to this role after four years and gives us an outstanding performance. His voice has grown in this time and is more rounded now with a good mixture of light and dark and he cuts a dashing figure on stage. He is working to ensure that Count Almaviva gets his girl, Rosina. The Count is sung by Eleazar Rodriguez , a Mexican tenor Rossini specialist, who has a smooth tone with a very easy top. His servant, Fiorella, was well sung by Matthew Durkan, an English baritone from the National Opera Studio, who has also been a Harewood artist.
The British soprano, Sarah Tynan, sings the role of Rosina. This exceptional versatile British singer constantly has the capacity to surprise with her ample sound, trills and floating notes. She is also a consummate actress. Her guardian, variously known as Dr Bungalow, Dr Barnardo and Dr Bastardo, but actually Dr Bartolo, was sung by the Cornish baritone, Alan Opie, who sings roles all over the world. His interpretation of the role – different to Andrew Shore, who has taken this part previously – was outstanding in his own way, performing at times with great humour, particularly when he was trying to keep his housekeeper, Berta, played by the wonderful Yvonne Howard, under control.
An outstanding evening.