- The Stage - https://www.thestage.co.uk -

The Barber of Seville review at London Coliseum – ‘a sparkling revival’

Sarah Tynan, Yvonne Howard, Eleazar Rodriguez, Morgan Pearse and Alan Opie Alastair Miles in The Barber of Seville. Photo: Robbie Jac

Forced to dispense with unaffordable innovation, English National Opera repeats another of its classic Jonathan Miller productions, last seen only two years ago. The revival director is again Peter Relton, with whom Miller appears on stage to a partial standing ovation on first night.

With Leiser and Caurier’s day-glo production featuring regularly at Covent Garden, this venerable mix of British farce and commedia dell’arte feels as comfortable as an old shoe.

Never one of Miller’s time-shifting high-concept reassessments, it retells the familiar story deftly, with comic detail precisely observed. Only Tanya McCallin’s period costumes and sets have begun to look dowdy, the main problem being not so much the distressed plasterwork as the redundant canopy of old sheets.

As in 2015, Count Almaviva is well acted by small-voiced Mexican tenor Eleazar Rodriguez, while Australian high baritone Morgan Pearse reprises his rather wooden Figaro; he has the decibels but produces some edgy tone. Both improve as the evening progresses.

ENO regular Sarah Tynan scores a personal triumph with her first Rosina. No longer the soubrette, she is almost too commanding and manipulative to make us feel for her character’s plight, the coloratura realised with impressive skill and confidence.

Alan Opie, the show’s first Figaro in 1987, has now graduated to the role of Dr Bartolo and proves adept at his comic business. So too is Alastair Miles’ Basilio. Such luxury casting does highlight the relative ordinariness of the male leads.

Although the orchestra is reduced in size, the approach of conductor Hilary Griffiths is essentially old-world lyrical, never forcing the pace or drowning the cast. His is an overdue ENO debut. Harpsichord rather than fortepiano accompanies the recitatives, which, alone, are not surtitled.

Sparkling, 13th revival of Jonathan Miller’s reliable laughter-maker manages to avoid routine thanks to several star performances

Production Information

The Barber of Seville
October 5, 2017
October 30, 2017
Press night
October 5, 2017
Cesare Sterbini
Amanda Holden, Anthony Holden
Gioachino Rossini
Jonathan Miller, Peter Relton (revival)
Hilary Griffiths
Tanya McCallin
Tom Mannings
Tanya McCallin
Judy Lewis (props supervisor), Sarah Hamza (costume supervisor), Judith Abegg (wigs and make-up supervisor), Justin Loader (show team supervisor), Martin Doone (lighting supervisor)
Stage manager
Rosalind Davis
Production manager
Rodger Hulley
Cast includes
Eleazar Rodriguez, Morgan Pearse, Sarah Tynan, Alan Opie, Alastair Miles, Yvonne Howard, Matthew Durkan
Elizabeth Yardeni, English National Opera
Running time
3hrs 5mins