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1995, Sydney, barbiere de Siviglia

Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Sydney 1995

Previous performance 1992, Welsh National Opera on tour, barbiere de Siviglia >>>
Next performance 1998, Berlin, barbiere di Siviglia >>>

Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Librettist: Sterbini, after Beaumarchais’ comedy
Venue and Dates: Sydney Opera House
14 June 1995
Conductor: Ivor Bolton
Director: Elijah Moshinsky
Set design: Michael Yeargan
Costume design: Dona Granata
Figaro : Simon Keenlyside
Almaviva : Michael Raymond Martin
Rosina : Kirsti Harms
Bartolo : John Pringle
Basilio : Daniel Sumegi
Australian Opera Chorus and Orchestra


Opera November 1995

…Elijah Moshinsky’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (June 14) proved a stunner. For once in this opera, all came together: fine singing, exuberant acting, sizzling conducting and real theatrical know-how. The theatre blazed with garlands of party lights and the curtain with its crazy pattern of coloured lozengers might have been tossed off by Klee or Miro on speed. Forget old Seville. This is young Hollywood of the silent movies and early talkies, of fake palm trees, skies full of stars, and a model film set with little clockwork people.

It worked because it was never overdone, even when the Keystone Kops squeezed into Dr Bartolo’s surgery like the Marx Brothers’ Night at the Opera movie. The production mostly trod a fine edge of satire, only occasionally falling over into farce. Michael Yeargan’s and Dona Granata’s gaudy two-story decorator’s nightmare of a house, complete with obligatory staircase to run up and down and plenty of doors to open and shut, almost became an additional comic member of the cast. The conductor, Ivor Bolton, right on top of the score, had the orchestra bubbling and fizzing, fast but never hasty. It was his first time with the Australian Opera but surely not his last.

The cast, too, could have been handpicket by MGM, voices courtesy of the Met! Simon Keenlyside as the velvety-toned Mr Fixit Figaro – for once seen briefly in his own red and white barber shop cutting hair – was an engagingly familiar conman with an easy charm and a readily-greased palm. In rich and vibrant mezzo form, Kirsti Harms with her boyish flapper figure and ‘20s bob was a bit of a minx as Rosina; Michael Raymond Martin as Almaviva revealed unsuspected comic talent; Daniel Sumegi’s bass timbre was so gorgeous that it shone even when he bumbled about as Basilio. And John Pringle, one of the AO’s most skilful character-actor-singers, turned Bartolo into the sort of doctor who quickly buries his mistakes.

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