A night at the opera, and what a treat.
Seven singers were responsible for a dazzling performance of Rossini’s comic opera Barber of Seville, performed in English with total comedy impact.
Indoor scenes were set inside – yes, inside a massive open silk-lined guitar case, with the small orchestra fully exposed both visually and musically also on stage. Elegant detailed costumes added to the overall appreciation of the period.
Christopher Monks, Armonico’s founder and artistic director gave crystal clear direction from the harpsichord; his players responding with fine articulation, humour and imagination. The snappy familiar overture set the scene after which the audience settled with smiles all round, becoming totally involved with the evening’s entertainment.
Strong character acting throughout was a delight, although Gareth Morris as Count Almaviva occasionally pushed his voice to the limits, sacrificing intonation in the higher registers. However he was well matched with Owen Gilhooly’s lively depiction of Figaro.
Text was always clear with an added bonus of Figaro’s melodious guitar accompaniment. No comic miming from this thorough musician, although John Molloy’s later ‘milking’ of Basilio’s mini guitar accompaniment was totally acceptable.
Minx Rosina was a true flirt. Clear recitatives from fine mezzo soprano Caryl Hughes were interjected with deliciously creative harpsichord decorations from Christopher Monks.
Flexibility is the name of the game from Rossini, with every character being stretched to their limits.