Heritage Opera’s Barber Delights and Entertains

10/06/2013

  Rossini: The Barber of Seville: Heritage Opera, Lowther Pavillion, Lytham, Lancashire, 7.6 2013. (MC)

Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini based on the Pierre Beaumarchais comedy Le Barbier de Séville. Sung in a new English translation by Sarah Helsby Hughes. Music performed by instrumental ensemble.

Cast:
Count Almaviva/Lindoro: Nicholas Sales (tenor)
Figaro, the Barber of Seville: Stephen John Svanholm (baritone)
Rosina: Melanie Lodge (soprano)
Dr. Bartolo: Richard Woodall (bass-baritone)
Don Basilio: Stephen Holloway (bass)
Berta: Sarah Helsby Hughes (soprano)
Fiorello/ Chief of Police: Matthew J. Palmer (baritone)
Musician/Police Officer: Eleanor Strutt (soprano), Dan Woodhouse (baritone)

Production:
Music Director: Benjamin Cox
Director/Design: Sarah Helsby Hughes
Scenic Director: Tom Eaglen

Barber of Seville, photo Heritage Opera

Barber of Seville, photo Heritage Opera

So much of opera is about fantasy with ridiculous characters, in absurd situations with the most preposterous of plots. This Rossini evergreen opera buffa The Barber of Seville has several unbelievable aspects – none more incredible than Rossini managing to compose the score to what is one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy, evidently in just three weeks. And how unbelievable it seems today that it was received so poorly at its première with the audience heckling and booing. Also astonishing is how the Heritage Opera company keep managing to stage productions which are so incredibly entertaining over and over again.

Directed by the talented Sarah Helsby Hughes, Heritage Opera’s production of The Barber of Seville was given in a brand new English translation. The cast was accompanied by a five piece instrumental ensemble directed by assured music director Benjamin Cox. Very simple yet vividly colourful the set looked perfect for the Lowther Pavilion stage and was tastefully lit throughout. I am always delighted by the fine detail that the company employ so cleverly such as paying the musicians with gold money that they tested with their teeth and, discovering it was chocolate money, began eating it.

First main character on the stage was game company stalwart Nicolas Sales. In his disguise as poor student Lindoro he was serenading outside Rosina’s window singing his appealing cavatina Ecco, ridente in cielo (The beautiful dawn is breaking). His bright lyrical tenor boasted clarity and as usual he made a considerable impact in his well characterised part as Count Almaviva. Perfect as Rosina was the attractive Melanie Lodge with her striking luminous eyes. Despite a rather tentative start she was captivating throughout, sketching a suitably vulnerable character using the purity of her mezzo-soprano voice to entrancing effect.

Baritone Stephen John Svanholm was straight into his role as the crafty Figaro, the Barber of Seville, exuding a natural confidence with a fine stage presence. Who could fail to love the Barber’s patter aria Largo al factotum (Make way for the factotum) delivered so splendidly by Svanholm. It took me quite a while to warm to Richard Woodall’s portrayal of the fulsome Dr. Bartolo. Looking a touch nervous the bass-baritone soon steadied to display a rich tone, settling satisfyingly into the role he made for himself as an essentially self-deluded buffoon. The first thing I noticed about Stephen Holloway was his formidable bearing that was made for the part of Don Basilio. His opulent bass with its rock steady, mahogany-like tone projected splendidly through the hall.

Heritage Opera’s production of The Barber of Seville was a sheer delight entertaining their Lytham audience royally. If you haven’t seen this opera company, remedy the situation and make sure you don’t miss out on the enjoyment of their next production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute in August.

Michael Cookson

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Looking Ahead to the 2019 Lucerne Festivals __________________________________
  • NEW! Sándor Végh Memorial Concerts 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera Perform Amahl and the Night Visitors in December __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Sundays for a Fiver Festival in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre Reopens in December 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Exciting 2018/19 Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! See Pop-Up Opera’s La Tragédie de Carmen this Autumn __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 and Beyond __________________________________
  • NEW! Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
 in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Sunday International Concerts Series in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! Salzburg Whitsun Festival 7 – 10 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bolshoi Ballet 2018/19 UK Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018-2019 Geneva Grand Theâtre Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Hallé Season in Manchester __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! The OAE Shakes Up Concert Hall Conventions as Players and Conductors Talk from Stage __________________________________
  • NEW! SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • NEW! THE PIANIST ANGELA HEWITT IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Montserrat Caballé (1933 – 2018): A Personal Tribute by Jack Buckley __________________________________
  • NEW! The Future of Opera is Theatre: An Essay by Casey Creel __________________________________
  • NEW! Jacqui and David Morris’s New Documentary Film Nureyev Celebrates a Unique Man and Dancer __________________________________
  • NEW! MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! JACK BUCKLEY’S MEMORIES OF LINDSAY KEMP (1938-2018) __________________________________
  • NEW! THE GESUALDO SIX IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • NEW! TENOR NICHOLAS PHAN IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER SALLON __________________________________
  • NEW! THE PIANIST GEORGE HARLIONO IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! THE CONDUCTOR ALEXANDER SLADKOVSKY IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month