Elijah Moshinsky’s production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, now reprising in Opera Australia’s summer season, is a delight from its first lighthearted notes to the final cords.
The opening scene between Count Almaviva, who is disguised as a poor student, and Figaro, the Count’s former employee now turned independent barber and general factotum, takes place against a really cute backdrop of a row of miniature terrace houses and tall palm trees designed by the inventive Michael Yeargan.
On the pavement outside Rosina’s home, the Count has engaged a troupe of singers and musicians to serenade his beloved, the ward of her jealous old guardian who intends to take her as his wife.
Figaro can help the Count gain entry to Rosina’s household disguised as a drunk soldier seeking a billet, and later as her music teacher, and this is where the comedy escalates to hilarious heights.
As the Count, Kenneth Tarver’s mellifluous light tenor is a treat for the ears, while Paolo Bordogna is as engaging a Figaro as you could ever see on stage.
Anna Dowsley’s Rosina is lively, charming and humorous, while Warwick Fyfe once again extracts maximum laughs as the cranky old Bartolo.
The ensemble work of this production is superb, with 30 performers on stage at times, and by the end of the boisterous second act, all is resolved in favour of the lovers while Figaro pockets his reward.
Rossini was fully aware of his genius. He famously said, “Give me a laundry list and I will set it to music”. (ID)
Until Mar 22, various show times. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. $44-$330. Tickets & info: opera.org.au