The Barber of Seville

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Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia is one of the world’s most famous opera pieces, and with

good reason. This classic comedy takes us to the warm streets of Andalusia, where the
noble Count Almaviva is chasing the beautiful Rosina, who he has fallen in love with. The
sentiment is mutual, but the girl is closely guarded by her tutor Dr Bartolo, who never
leaves her alone and is secretly scheming to marry his protégé. Enter Figaro, the city’s
young barber, and jack of all trades, who helps the Count in his courting of Rosina.

This production returns to Edinburgh by popular demand after an acclaimed first run in
2007. Its strengths are easy to spot: Sir Thomas Allen’s impeccable direction makes full
use of the cheerful scenography, elegantly progressing the story to match the fast-paced
plot, and with an incredible attention to detail that even allows choir members to distinctly
contribute to the overall joyous stage atmosphere. A vital contribution comes from The
Orchestra of Scottish Opera, very well conducted by Francesco Corti, which perfectly
performs Rossini’s immortal arias, effectively bringing the opera to life and accompanying
the public through the plot’s twists and turns, witty intrigues and crowded scenes.

The main cast doesn’t delude, performing the well-known and loved characters with talent
and living up to the bel canto tradition. These international singers pour all their experience
into their interpretation, faithfully laying out the story and adding colorful touches to please
the audience. In particular Don Basilio (Graeme Broadbent) and Dr Bartolo’s servants,
Ambrogio (Paul Anwyl) and Berta (Teuta Koço) provide the comedic elements that tie the
opera buffa together. Unfortunately at times acoustics didn’t help the singers, their voices
often towered by the orchestra’s powerful music, and sometimes tangled together in a
fashion that made their individual parts indistinguishable.

An overall well-rounded performance that honours this famous opera, and well worth
assisting in its two remaining Edinburgh dates.

Edinburgh Festival Theatre
Nov 15-17-19 19:15

Reviewed by Bruno Panara 16/11/2011

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