Sunday, 23 November 2014

Barber 1, Surgeon 0



It’s an old fight. Surgeons and Barbers. They used to be bundled together, not all that happily. Rossini’s barber – a fellow by the name of Figaro – and one of the most popular opera characters – pulls one over the greedy doctor (I don’t know if he is a surgeon or not). Bartlett Sher’s production of The Barber of Seville would make most people smile. Last night, a really and genuinely funny performance was beamed into cinemas around the world from the Met. It is always hard to know by cinema link just how good (or not) singing is, but without a doubt Brownlee, Maltman, Lennard and Muraro were on absolutely top form. It didn’t hurt that somehow the Doctor (Muraro) looked like Alex Salmond (but I am pretty sure even Figaro wouldn’t succeed with such an opponent).

It was quite a conventional production in some ways – the costumes were traditional, and similar to images which I have used to decorate marmalade labels with much success. Lots of yellow doors on wheels; one had a balcony atop it. Figaro arrived with a cart painted in red and white from which he operated, pulled with comic effect by ladies. Christopher Maltman was Figaro. The relative simplicity of the set - it wasn’t a gimmicky production except for a giant anvil which worked to comic effect– paid dividends. Clearly, creative efforts were focused on humour and drama and singing. And it made for a really wonderful few hours.

I’m always in two minds about going to the relays; I feel they are quite steep when inexpensive tickets can be bought to things like Glyndebourne Tour and Opera North for not all that much more. However I don’t ever regret them. This was deeply charming. 

Overall: If released on DVD I will happily add to collection, as this would cheer up anyone. Take a bow, donkey included.*

* Interval programming showed Deborah Voigt introduced to the quadruped member of the cast, Sir Galahad.

Cast:
Conductor: Michele Mariotti
Fiorello: Yunpeng Wang
Count Almaviva: Lawrence Brownlee
Figaro: Christopher Maltman
Rosina: Isabel Leonard
Dr Bartolo: Maurizi Muraro
Don Basilio: Paata Burchuladeze
Berta: Claudia Waite
An Officer: Dennis Petersen
Ambrogio: Rob Besserer

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