Saturday 7 October 2017

Infectious charm: Rossini's Barber of Seville at ENO

ENO - Rossini: Barber of Seville - Sarah Tynan, Eleazar Rodriguez, Alan Opie, Morgan Pearse, Yvonne Howard, Alastair Miles (c) Robbie Jack
ENO - Rossini: The Barber of Seville
Sarah Tynan, Eleazar Rodriguez, Alan Opie, Morgan Pearse, Yvonne Howard, Alastair Miles (c) Robbie Jack
Rossini The Barber of Seville; Morgan Pearse, Sarah Tynan, Eleazar Rodriguez, Alan Opie, Alastair Miles, Yvonne Howard, dir: Jonathan Miller/Peter Relton, cond: Hilary Griffiths: English National Opera
Reviewed by Anthony Evans on Oct 5 2017 Star rating: 4.0
Sparkling 30th anniversary revival of Jonathan Miller's classic production

ENO - Rossini: Barber of Seville - Alan Opie, Eleazar Rodriguez, Sarah Tynan, (c) Robbie Jack
Alan Opie, Eleazar Rodriguez, Sarah Tynan, (c) Robbie Jack
After thirty years, Jonathan Miller’s production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville returns to the English National Opera at the London Coliseum for it’s thirteen outing. Revived by Peter Relton, the Mexican tenor Eleazar Rodriguez and Australian baritone Morgan Pearse return as Count Almaviva and Figaro, conducted by Hilary Griffiths. Sarah Tynan, last seen in ENO’s Partenope (see our review), and Alan Opie, having been the production’s original Figaro (captured on disc for Chandos) make their role debuts as Rosina and Dr. Bartolo. They are joined by British bass Alastair Miles as Don Basilio and English mezzo-soprano Yvonne Howard as Berta.

The plot, as described by Beaumarchais, is pretty ordinary. “An amorous old man means to marry his ward the following day: her young lover, cleverer than he is, prevents him from doing so, and that same day makes her his wife, under her guardian’s nose and in his house”. The delight of Rossini’s absurd and subversive opera buffa is the self-conscious complicity of both performers and characters in the unfolding drama. Theatre as theatre if you like – I never tire of it.

ENO - Rossini: Barber of Seville - Morgan Pearse (c) Robbie Jack
Morgan Pearse (c) Robbie Jack
Having seen this Barber a little after it’s inception, Jonathan Miller’s Commedia dell’Arte inspired frivolity, Tanya McCallin’s unfussy 18th Century setting and Amanda and Anthony Holden’s witty translation are holding up rather better than I am.

After a lack-lustre start which felt like someone had left the handbrake on - the Count’s accomplished “Ecco ridente” passed almost unnoticed. The youthful ringing baritone and easy charm of Morgan Pearse gave us a badly needed injection of brio in “Largo al factotum” that shook off the torpor. By the time we met Sarah Tynan’s coquettish Rosina the handbrake had been released. Her sparkling coloratura and impeccable diction were a delight. She has a insouciant virtuosity that is enviable and infectious. Eleazar Rodriguez’s mellifluous voice began to blossom in seeming synchronicity as did his impish charm.

Alan Opie had great fun as the splenetic fossilised crustacean Dr. Bartolo, not the usual overblown buffo clown, and all the better for it. Alastair Miles lubricious Don Basilio and Yvonne Howard’s charming Berta all added to a beguiling evenings entertainment. At the final curtain the audience rose in appreciation at Jonathan Miller’s appearance – and why not?
Review by Anthony Evans

ENO - Rossini: Barber of Seville - (c) Robbie Jack
ENO - Rossini: Barber of Seville - (c) Robbie Jack
The Barber of Seville
Thursday 5 October 2017
Figaro : Morgan Pearse
Rosina : Sarah Tynan
Count Almaviva : Eleazar Rodriguez
Doctor Bartolo : Alan Opie
Berta : Yvonne Howard
Don Basilio : Alastair Miles
Fiorello : Matthew Durkan
Conductor : Hilary Griffiths
Director : Jonathan Miller
Revived by : Peter Relton

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