With my last visit to the opera being over 30 years ago, I was unsure what to expect. I love the theatre but had reservations that I would be out of my depth. However, I was reassured by the audience entering the theatre that the performance was for everyone and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Yes, there were times I was unsure what was happening and, yes, I couldn’t understand all of the words sung (despite being in English) but the synopsis and acting were enough to guide me. Unlike the fast paced world we live in, it was an unusual pleasure to sit back and enjoy watching events unfold.
There were times when I needed to refer to the programme to read the scene synopsis, but this was probably a lack of preparation and time on my part. It was reassuring to read that Act 1 ends with ‘amazement and confusion’!
The original Andrew Gallagher production is revived by Brendan Wheatley, who also plays Dr Bartolo with comic aplomb. The use of Gary McCann’s cut-out style of sets for Seville grew on me especially when I saw how it was combined with the lighting. The changing colours and intensity of the lighting from James Thomas, added to the drama on stage from the dark red intense scenes to the brightly shining comedy moments.
The costumes were impressive, in keeping with the characters and added to the performance. The simple rolling down of a sock and undoing of a button was a clever, amusing way to change Count Almaviva, sung by William Wallace, into a drunken soldier! In the leading role of Figaro, Hakan Vrasmo had that extra stage presence, a sense of genuine comedy timing and believable ‘swagger’.
I enjoyed the comedy, it made for the perfect introduction to opera, removing the sense of it being out of reach, or an art for the elite. Subtle changes to costume, gestures and word substitutions mixed with blatant silliness, kept me focused and smiling.
I was reading the synopsis as I watched to be sure of the plot but I’d research it further in future to make sure I had a better understanding of the roles. Unlike a book or a movie, I don’t think knowing the ending would spoil the performance, I think it would have let me enjoy it more.
I think anyone who’s nervous or unsure should try this opera. It has something for everyone and I while I don’t know if I’ have been converted to being a huge fan, it’s made me feel I want to go again. I’d be happy to recommend The Barber of Seville to friends, especially those who looked on in disbelief I said I was going to the opera.
Music, singing and acting, mixed with good company, what was not to enjoy?
- 20.02.2018 New Theatre Cardiff 029 2087 8889
- 22.02.2018 Aberystwyth Arts Centre 01970 623232
- 24.02.2018 Palace Theatre Paignton 01803 665800
- 01.03.2018 Octagon Yeovil 01935 422884
- 03.03.2018 Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds 01284 769505
- 10.03.2018 Theatre Severn Shrewsbury 01743 281281
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- 20.03.2018 Theatre Royal Winchester 01962 840440
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- 13.04.2018 Gaiety Theatre Douglas Isle of Man 01624 600555
- 20.04.2018 Neuadd Dwyfor Pwllheli 01758 704088
- 21.04.2018 Ucheldre Centre Holyhead 01407 763361
- 26.04.2018 Theatre by the Lake Keswick 01768 774411
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- 04.05.2018 Harrogate Theatre 01423 502116
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