ENO’s The Barber of Seville is an Altogether Satisfying Evening

14/10/2017

Rossini, The Barber of Seville: Cast, Chorus & Orchestra of English National Opera / Hilary Griffiths. London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London, 10.10.2017. (CC)

BoS

Morgan Pearse (Figaro) & Sarah Tynan (Rosina) in ENO’s The Barber of Seville (c) Robbie Jack

Cast:

Figaro – Morgan Pearce
Rosina: – Sarah Tynan
Bartolo – David Ireland
Count Almaviva – Eleazar Rodriguez
Don Basilio – Alastair Miles
Fiorello – Matthew Durkan
Berta – Yvonne Howard
Ambrogio – Geraint Hylton
An Official – Paul Napier-Burrows
A Notary – Allan Adams

Production:

Director – Jonathan Miller
Revival Director – Peter Relton
Designer – Tanya McCallin
Lighting Designer – Thomas Mannings

Last reviewed by myself just a touch over two years ago (review), Jonathan Miller’s staging of Rossini’s comedic masterpiece returns now a round and full 30 years after its first outing. It has survived well, but perhaps over-familiarity now results in finding just a touch too many hints of Miller in G&S mode, as if Gilbert and Sullivan’s antics were sellotaped onto Rossini’s. The commedia dell’arte references still work well, but perhaps the slapstick that lasted so long is now wearing a little.

The actual staging, with its carefully considered lighting, remains satisfying. Covent Garden’s fairytale interpretation by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier (review) acts as a balance to this, Miller’s rather more open-air reading.

There are a number of constants between this cast and the 2015 ENO outing: Figaro, Almaviva, Fiorello, Ambroglio, the official and the notary are all taken by the same singers. There was one big change, and a last-minute one, though: Alan Opie, who had been Figaro way back in 1987, was due to take on Bartolo (a role taken by the wonderful Andrew Shore in 2105). Instead, bass-baritone David Ireland got what appears to be his big career break. Ireland recently left the Guildhall and was appointed an ENO Harewood artist. His biography principally lists his activity over at the Guildhall, and I can do him no greater compliment than to state he lived the part. No concession had to be made whatsoever for indisposition, late notice and lack of experience. There was a lovely sense of simply being at home on the stage. Ireland’s voice is full, rounded and confident. With all this taken into consideration, it is only fitting he gets first consideration in this review.

The Rosina, Sarah Tynan, was a brilliant assumption. Tynan has all the vocal flexibility required for the role, as well as a freshness both of voice and of demeanour. Morgan Pearce, the Figaro, has a huge voice and swagger to match, his “Largo al factotum” despatched with aplomb.

Alastair Miles is a well-loved and familiar face at the Coliseum. His Basilio was a sight to behold, tall, lanky, uncoordinated and simply brilliant in “La Callunia”. Another familiar face is Yvonne Howard, superb in the small role of Berta. Eleazar Rodriguez seems more comfortable this time round as the Count Almaviva, almost as if she is slipping into a comfortable pair of old slippers. All of the smaller roles were well taken.

The ENO Orchestra clearly has taken a liking to Hilary Griffiths – certainly if the well-shaped Overture was anything to go by. This was Griffiths’ ENO debut – he is most associated with opera houses of Prague and Cologne – and his clear sense of theatre ran through the evening. He also seems to think on the long-term: the music had direction. Perhaps an extra addition of fizz now and again would have allowed us to really live in the moment, but this was fine conducting indeed.

After 30 years, one wonders how much time is left for this production? There were spare seats, and more post-interval. One fervently hopes, though, that Hilary Griffiths will be asked back and that we will see more of David Ireland.

Colin Clarke

For more about English National Opera click here.

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Spitalfields Music Festival 2017 in December __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere of The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu in December at Milton Court __________________________________
  • NEW! Hampstead Garden Opera Bring The Enchanted Pig to Highgate in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Svetlana Zakharova and Bolshoi Stars Bring Amore to the London Coliseum in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Tom Green and Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife Premieres on 15 October in Cardiff __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Autumn/Winter Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti’s ‘Alexandra and the Russians’ at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • NEW! Birmingham and Beyond: Ex Cathedra in 2017/18 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • NEW! The Generosity of Gwyneth Jones: Her Masterclass at the Royal College of Music __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • NEW! JUSTIN DOYLE DISCUSSES MONTEVERDI WITH MARK BERRY __________________________________
  • NEW! Katie Lowe Wins the 2017 Elizabeth Connell Prize __________________________________
  • NEW! ITINÉRAIRE BAROQUE 2017: TON KOOPMAN TALKS TO COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House in Mumbai is Restored to its Former Glory __________________________________
  • NEW! iSING! – International Young Artists Festival in Suzhou, China __________________________________
  • NEW! A Riveting Kokoschka’s Doll from Sir John Tomlinson and Counterpoise __________________________________
  • NEW! ANGELA BROWNRIDGE IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H