20th March 2011 – in rep at London’s Little Opera House
This production is pure fun from start to finish and for a change the cut-throat razor is used only for shaving (a first for opera?).
OperaUpClose have given us a fresh take on Rossini’s Barber of Seville by setting it in Salisbury, and just hinting at the world of Jane Austen, although there the similarity ends – these characters are painted with much broader brush-strokes.
The cast are on particularly good form here, extracting every opportunity for fun and silliness (not surprising given the darker themes of some of the other productions currently in rep at London’s Little Opera House). Everyone sparkles, but Clare Presland (think Toni Collette in Muriel’s Wedding) deserves a special mention as Rosalina. She delivers a comic tour de force as the feisty love interest, an object of affection of both the Marquis of Bath and her Guardian, and it’s soon clear that she will be more than a match for both of them. Edward Lee as the Marquis of Bath, whilst perhaps a little too youthful-looking for the seasoned seducer, more than makes up for this with his cheeky arrogance and rampant sexuality, especially in the drunken scenes.
It can’t be easy to sing Figaro’s famous signature song and make it sound fresh, but Stephen John Svanholme succeeds with his wonderfully flirty rendition, including a spot of audience participation for the chorus, and individual styling tips. As a famous actress once said, you can’t expect the audience to enjoy it if you don’t, and this cast have taken that advice on board with gusto.
Our only question now is, when will they be doing the sequel?