The year is 1987; Wall Street and Fatal Attraction are the blockbusters of the year, Toni Morrison’s Beloved has just been published, legwarmers and shoulder pads are still a thing, and Jonathan Miller’s much loved production of The Barber of Seville is debuted. Fast-forward 28 years and the production still stands firm as a crowd favourite, (happily unlike those legwarmers and shoulder pads) proving that new is not always better. Rossini’s comedic yet endearing work is a cornerstone in ‘dramma-giocoso’ opera and this production continues to uphold its reputation, even if there is that initial knee-jerk reaction of feeling confused on hearing English words replacing the familiar Italian.
In a work as full of energy and activity as Rossini’s Barber of Seville, comic timing is everything and this particular cast has mastered the delicate art of well timed physical comedy. Andrew Shore showed his penchant for comedic portrayals with his scene-stealing Bartolo. Other singing highlights included Morgan Pearse as a fresh-faced Figaro who sang the famous repeated “Figaro”s with much aplomb to the audience’s delight. Kathryn Rudge, who played the bright and charming Rosina, handled Rossini’s famously fiendish runs elegantly. These singers were generally well accompanied by the orchestra, save for a few noticeable moments when the balance was not right and the voices were obscured by heavier instruments.
Miller’s gem is still definitely worth going to see, even in it’s 12th revival, and that is something to applaud (as the audience did when Miller himself took a bow on stage). This production’s longevity is a testament to the phrase: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Although Tanya McCallin’s set is very much reminiscent of the time Rossini wrote the work, and the costume is all period dress, the energy and the comedy shown by the singers keeps this production current, and will carry on doing so for yet another few more revivals to come, I’m sure.
Catch the production in cinemas across the UK on Monday 19 October or go and see it at the Coliseum until 11 November. More information here.
Written by Thoroughly Modern Missy.