Music fans who missed out on a close shave at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal on Tuesday can rebook to see The Barber of Seville when he stops off again on Thursday evening, writes Tony Spittles.
This tuneful, comic opera has delighted audiences for nearly 200 years, retelling the story of how young Spanish nobleman Count Almaviva uses a variety of guises and ruses to woo and win the heart of the beautiful Rosina, ward of the lecherous, old Dr Bartolo, who plans his own marriage to her.
Leeds-based Opera North’s razor-sharp production, which has been around for nearly 30 years, just gets better as the years go by, helped by a witty and apt translation by Robert David MacDonald, director Giles Havergal’s light touch template, and set and costumer designer Russell Craig’s inventive, two-level set, which provides the backdrop to three hours of seamless music making.
Company regular Eric Roberts as the suspicious and ageing, bridegroom-to-be Dr Bartolo revels in a role that he makes his own, ably supported by three, up-and-coming singers, all of whom are names to watch .
Soprano’s Katie Bray’s stage presence and vocal dexterity as the feisty heiress Rosina lingered long after the final applause as did the energy and enthusiasm of her suitor, Count Almaviva (tenor Nicholas Watts) - when he wasn’t pretending to be poor student Lindoro or bogus music teacher Don Alonso - and the town’s barber and all-round fixer Figaro (Gavan Ring) as they run circles around Dr Bartolo.
Strong support was given by Dean Robinson as Rosina’s singing teacher, Don Basilio; Victoria Sharp as Berta, Dr Bartolo’s housekeeper, and Nicholas Butterfield as Fiorello, Almaviva’s servant
A darker look at love, jealousy and sacrifice is theme of Janacek’s harrowing opera Jenufa, being given a single staging this evening (Wednesday), while Opera North completes its triple treat of goodies with three performances of Cole Porter’s song-packed Kiss Me, Kate.
Premiered on Broadway in 1948, Kiss Me, Kate - set both on and off stage during the production of a musical version of Shakespeare’s farce The Taming of the Shrew - revolves around the tempestuous love lives of actor-producer Fred Graham and his leading lady turned ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi.
While they might be having a lovers’ tiff or two, the soundtrack is heaven sent with such standout numbers as We Open in Venice and Too Darn Hot to Brush Up Your Shakespeare, Wunderbar and Always True To You In My Fashion.
Curtain up on all productions is 7.15pm - plus a 2.15pm staging of Kiss Me, Kate on Saturday - and further details of tickets, £15 to £60, can be obtained from the Theatre Royal box office on 0115 9895555 or via the website at www.trch.co.uk
Pictured is a scene from Opera North’s production of Kiss Me Kate.