Home » Classical Music » Review : Prom 14, Rossini – The Barber of Seville at the Royal Albert Hall on 25th July 2016

Review : Prom 14, Rossini – The Barber of Seville at the Royal Albert Hall on 25th July 2016

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Photo : BBC/Chris Christodoulou

After the drama of the operatic Prom featuring Bryn Terfel as Boris Godunov, Glyndebourne brought a touch of comic opera with the ever popular The Barber of Seville.

Gioachino Rossini was only 23 when he completed The Barber of Seville and in his prime, it was said he completed the opera in only three weeks. He adapted Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais’ play Le Barbier de Séville which also inspired Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. The opera premiered at the Teatro Argentina in Rome in 1816, the opening night was considered a disaster, however it soon became a firm favourite in opera houses around the world.
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 Photo : BBC/Chris Christodoulou
This evening’s performance is based on the production presented recently at Glyndebourne and carries on the tradition of Glyndebourne presenting complete semi staged operas at the Proms which began in the 1960s.
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Photo : BBC/Chris Christodoulou
From the famous overture with conductor Enrique Mazzola in a gold jacket quickly getting the London Philharmonic Orchestra into the madcap theme for the night. This was comedy chaos on a small stage, the arrival of Fiorello (Huw Montague Rendall) and the musicians with assorted entourage including jugglers provided the start of a fast-moving and imaginative production. Costumes generally set the action in the 1950s and 60s with Count Almaviva ( Taylor Stayton ) in a long silver frock coat and sporting an Elvis quiff and energetic, charismatic Figaro (Björn Bürger) turning up from a variety of locations in the hall including posing with the Henry Wood bust at the top of the stage. Berta ( Janis Kelly ) provided some nicely paced comedic touches when she made her short but frequent appearances on the stage.
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Photo : BBC/Chris Christodoulou
The conductor’s podium doubled as rose-strewn balcony from which Danielle de Niese’s excitable Rosina makes her first experience. The arrival of the conservative and controlling Bartolo ( Alessandro Corbelli ) and smoking Don Basilio ( Christophoros Stamboglis ) sets up the comedy of errors for the second half.
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Photo : BBC/Chris Christodoulou
The  second half focused on the Count Almaviva’s pursuit of Rosina who is due to be married to her guardian Bartolo and involved a series of comedy scenes featuring the cunning barber Figaro. The vocal high jinks matched the ingenuity of Rossini’s score in a highly charged race to the end, when love conquers all and finally Almaviva and Rosina get married with the reluctant Bartolo’s blessing.
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Photo : BBC/Chris Christodoulou
At three hours long, this was an evening that tested the resilience of even the most experienced prommers, however the short scenes and comedic episodes provided plenty of entertainment and the excellent cast of singers and the chorus offered a wide range of light and shade to the high energy score that drove the drama forward to its exciting climax. Enrique Mazzola conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra with calm assurance, especially important considering  the often madcap scenes on stage. The successful performance of a   semi staged operas  relies on everyone working together to create a piece that satisfies those who want to enjoy the music and the singing . The enthusiastic response of the audience throughout the evening’s performance and at the end would indicate that Glyndebourne had provided yet another successful semi staged opera at the Proms.

The Proms are considered one of the greatest music festivals. Some of the best musicians and orchestras in the world with an incredible diversity of music provide wonderful entertainment with tickets at very reasonable levels.

Even though the seats for many of the Proms have sold out, it is still possible to attend if you don’t mind standing in the arena or the gallery. With a large number of tickets available for every Prom at the price of £6, it is one of the bargains of the summer.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and book tickets, visit the Royal Albert Hall website here

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