Rossini’s The Barber of Seville has enjoyed well deserved fame for nearly 200 years. Like any great classic, the beauty of the opera is its universally popular story and theme. In Opera Queensland’s 2008 presentation of The Barber of Seville, Rossini’s romantic score naturally maintains the opera’s reputation, while the surreal set design breathes colour and life, adding just the right dash of contemporary culture into this long-standing opera.
‘The Barber’ is none other than the infamous Figaro (played by Jose Carbo), a brash young man who plays cupid with the lives and loves of those around him. Figaro is enlisted by Count Almaviva (Adrian Dwyer) to help him win the true affections of the young beauty Rosina (Elvira Fatykhova). Rosina is jealously guarded by the repugnant Doctor Bartolo (John Bolton Wood), her protector and self styled would-be-suitor. Co-conspirator in the Doctor’s plans, is Don Basilio (Andrew Collis). When Figaro and Count Almaviva hatch a plan to win the heart of Rosina and steal her away from the Doctor, they go to extreme lengths to disguise the Count and confound the lady’s onlookers. In a comedy of players, this opera has all the best types. And it is these characters, more so than anything, that make the opera so likeable.
Yet characters need great performers to truly express their intrigues. Delightfully, these performers do not disappoint. Carbo’s Figaro is so charming and debonair, one almost wishes that Rosina will fall for him instead. Fatykhova blends the perfect amount of feigned naivety with a faint underlying hint at her true power, expressing Rosina as a highly intelligent woman who knows exactly how to play all the men around her. Additionally, her comic expressions make for some of the most memorable moments of the production. John Bolton Wood’s Doctor Bartolo is easily the most likeable villain I have ever encountered. Instead of taking the Doctor’s vileness to an extreme, Wood plays more on his disability - his complete lack of comprehension. All in all, the story is light, fun and spirited, and generously gorgeous to watch.
It was a thrill to behold live Figaro’s aria “Largo al factotum”. Carbo was bold and amusing, and Fatykhova’s voice was enchanting. The orchestra performed seamlessly, and Rossini’s score delighted its audience, as always.
The visual side of the production - set, costume, lighting - add to the general pretty ambiance that is created already by the characters and the score. Everything appeared simultaneously pretty and humourous, right down to the fountains that sprouted water from rather comical places. The actors added an amiable quality to the production.
All in all, The Barber of Seville was everything an opera should be: lavish, delectable and accessible. Formidable performances all around. A delight to watch.
The Barber of Seville
by Gioachino Rossini
Venue: Lyric Theatre, Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Dates: 17, 22 (30 Below), 24, 27 (30 Below), 29 (sunset) and 31 (matinee) May
Tickets: from $40
Bookings: qtix 136 246 or online www.qtix.com.au