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Opera Review New life breathed into old favourite

The Barber Of Seville
The Festival Theatre
Edinburgh International Festival

Rossini’s comic opera, composed allegedly in thirteen days, consistently rates among the most popular on the circuit. Opera buffs who find it odd that the official Festival should give airing to such a common favourite will have their doubts put to rest with Laurent Pelly’s wittily scintillating production from Theatre des Champs-Elyses.

The plot, with its stock Commedia del Arte characters and pattern of trickery and disguise, can be taken for granted. The dashing Count Almaviva, in love with enchanting young Rosina, is frustrated by her elderly guardian who has his own plans for his ward and her fortune. The resourceful barber Figaro comes to the rescue leading to an inevitable happy ending.

Pelly and conductor Jeremie Rhorer, with his period-instrument Le Cercle de l’Harmonie orchestra, let the music do the work.

Opera, however, is theatre. The audience needs something to engage the eye and Pelly, the show’s designer as well as director, has the knock-about action take place literally within the music, his set consisting of huge scrolls of empty music manuscript paper which throughout is filled with Rossini’s score.

The characters perform with some occasional awkwardness on and around this wittily inventive set — Figaro descends initially from the flies lowered down in a chair.

This is all part of the fun and of little significance given the superb singing of the four principals, Michele Andrieux’s Almaviva, Catherine Trottmann’s Rosina, Peter Kalman’s bullying Dr Bartolo and Guillaume Andrieux’s Figaro.

Rhorer keeps the pace moving in this delightfull fizzy production that breathes new life into an old favourite.

If the test must be audience approval this is a winner.



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