Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Review: THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, Royal Opera House

Review: THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, Royal Opera House

A cut above.

Review: THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, Royal Opera House Whether you see this because of the scintillating score or because a night out at the opera is now cheaper than heating your home, The Barber Of Seville is sure to warm the cockles of your heart.

Famously written in just three weeks and borrowing a tune that he wrote previously, Giochino Rossini's The Barber Of Seville, is one of the great comic operas. Set in 18th century Spain, we meet Count Almaviva who has come all the way from Italy to pursue the object of his desire Rosina. She's being held captive by Dr Bartolo who plans to marry her for her inheritance but the Count and his resourceful hair stylist friend Figaro have other ideas.

The fifth revival of this brilliant version of Rossini's opera buffa from Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier brings with it a host of star names. Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare makes his debut in the ENO pit but, on this performance alone, looks like he will soon be an attraction in his own right. His frenetic arm movements are a joy to see, amping up the atmosphere and willing on the orchestra to ever greater heights as the cast power through some of opera's most famous arias.

On stage, Andrzej Filończyk as Figaro is the savvy saboteur of Bartolo's plans with a phenomenal voice more than able to deal with the trickiest parts of the vocal performance. Lawrence Brownlee and Aigul Akhmetshina as the lovers are an inspire pairing who push each other to greater heights. In the minor roles, Bryn Terfel as the co-conspirator Don Basilio shows off his comic acting skills more than his barely-required voice and Ailish Tyna is a pocket rocket dishing out fire as Bartolo's put-upon maid.

Leiser and Caurier put their stamp on Barber through details small and large. The kooky costume choices have been retained. Figaro and Almaviva look as if they were dressed by colourblind seven-year-olds: the barber swans around in a red and white striped top under denim dungarees and a red hairnet like a life-size Super Mario Brother while the affluent count pairs a deep yellow shirt with a dark crimson suit. How the least conspicuous twosome in Seville ever managed to sneak into anyone's house - never mind that of a suspicious suitor - is anyone's guess.

The sets (designed by Christian Fenouillat) themselves are evocative and, as we find out before the end of the first act, rather more than what they seem. The initial staging sees Almaviva call out to his love from the street as she stands on a balcony behind very high bars. It won't take Maya Angelou to work out why this caged bird sings but seeing the pair beautifully juxtaposed like this, so close yet so far, is worth sitting through the early expositional arias. Once the action shifts to inside Bartolo's house, a colourfully pastel-striped interior belies several clever touches including sliding panels, hidden doors and mechanical underpinnings; those who suffer from seasickness may went to head to the bar just before the interval.

With its distinct visual style and captivating set design, this production is destined to enter the pantheon of all-time Covent Garden greats. This latest cast more than do justice to the vision of Leiser and Caurier and should prove another hot ticket for the Royal Opera House.

The Barber Of Seville continues at the Royal Opera House until 6 March.

Review: ASTORIA, Jack Studio Theatre Photo
Tony Britten's play is funny and moving if, at times, tricky to follow

Kerry Ellis Releases New Single Battlefield, featuring Sir Brian May Photo
The supremely talented Kerry Ellis has released Battlefield, the first single taken from her upcoming album Kings & Queens, out on 12 May. Featuring the legendary Sir Brian May on guitar, the track is available to stream and download now, while the album can be pre-ordered via Westway Music.

Samantha Womack, Michael Praed, Faye Tozer, Les Dennis and Nicole-Lily Baisden Will Lead 4 Photo
​​​​​​​Samantha Womack will star as Dorothy Brock, alongside Michael Praed as Julian Marsh, Faye Tozer as Maggie Jones, Les Dennis as Bert Barry and Nicole-Lily Baisden as Peggy Sawyer in the UK tour of 42nd STREET.

Special Spring Offer on NEWSIES at Troubadour Wembley Park Photo
Disney’s Newsies, the sensational family musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Fierstein is now playing at London’s Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre for a limited season.

From This Author - Franco Milazzo

The Daily Beast were kind enough to call me "a man with an encyclopedic knowledge of the city’s underground culture" and who am I to disagree? If you have or know of a show which is... (read more about this author)

Review: AKHNATEN, London ColiseumReview: AKHNATEN, London Coliseum
March 19, 2023

Who’s up for a three-hour long opera about the relatively unknown pharaoh Akhnaten? With the singing in Egyptian, Hebrew and Akkadian? With no surtitles? Based on the music of minimalist composer Phillip Glass? And with an entire troupe of jugglers? Us, that's who.

March 18, 2023

With references ripped from the headlines, this rocket-paced update of Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s Accidental Death Of An Anarchist is at once both deeply political and utterly hilarious.

Review: GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY (UK TOUR), New Wimbledon TheatreReview: GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY (UK TOUR), New Wimbledon Theatre
March 15, 2023

If John Steinbeck had been asked to create a musical, it may have looked something like this. Soundtracked by the songs of Bob Dylan, Girl From The North Country is, at heart, a bleak meditation on untimely death; not just physically due to illness, murder and suicide (though that’s here too) but also spiritually due to the death of ambition, the death of hope and, most cruelly, the death of love.

March 13, 2023

Punchdrunk’s The Burnt City is undoubtably one of the biggest and most impressive shows in London, if only by sheer physical scale. Is it worth upgrading to their VIP experience?

Review: COPPELIA, Sadler's WellsReview: COPPELIA, Sadler's Wells
March 5, 2023

When Coppelius asks Swanhilda “do you derive more pleasure from running your finger along your lover’s skin or across the glass surface of your phone?”, Coppélia holds a brutal mirror up to modern society in a way no ballet has for quite some time.