Il barbiere di Siviglia, Glyndebourne, GFO, May 2016Posted on 23 May 2016
The cast for Glyndebourne’s new Barber — its first performance of this opera for over thirty years — exuded huge zest and youthful energy, encouraged by the infectious enthusiasm of conductor Enrique Mazzola, who brought Rossini’s score vividly to life.
This was a team whose rapid-fire musicality drew cheers from the audience, with the inimitable Alessandro Corbelli as a witty Dr. Bartolo never once overstepping the comedy of his situation. He was well matched by Taylor Stayton as Count Almaviva, every bit the young lover, wearing his disguises without the over-affectation sometimes attaching itself to the role. As object of their rivalry, Danielle de Niese made a feisty Rosina, wealthy ward of the wily doctor, exhibiting excellent chemistry with her beloved Lindoro (aka Almaviva) and a nice line in coloratura. Navigating this maze of love, lust and pecuniary interest, the youthful Björn Bürger as Figaro really set things alight, and the Act 2 trio with Almaviva and Rosina was sheer delight.
Fine singing too from other cast members, with Christophoros Stamboglis as a solid Basilio, Jerwood Young Artist Huw Montague Rendall showing vocal charm as Almaviva’s servant Fiorello, and Janis Kelly as Bartolo’s servant Berta inspiring spontaneous applause following her excellent Act 2 aria on the frenzy and craziness around her.
This new production by Annabel Arden, who teamed up with conductor Enrique Mazzola for Glyndebourne’s successful L’elisir d’amore in 2009, offers some clever ideas with three actors adding acrobatics and mime scenes. For instance in Act 2 after Bartolo has persuaded Rosina she is cooperating in her own abduction rather than elopement, the storm music accompanies the brief mime of a devil carrying off a maiden. Fine interactions too between conductor and performers, with Enrique Mazzola shaking Figaro’s hand as he makes his first entrance via the orchestra pit. The youthful pairing of Almaviva and Figaro was a joy, and during the high-jinks with the police in Act 2 Figaro even leaps into the air clicking his heels. Wonderful fun.
Sets by Joanna Parker tend to the minimalist, with stylized incomplete designs, and plenty of movement directed by Toby Sedgwick, particularly with the choreography for two harpsichords, and even a whole bevy of them ending Act 1 in colourful confusion. Yet designs and movement aside this was a Barber of charm, youthful vigour, and vocal and musical precision.
Sadly tickets are largely sold out, though performances continue until July 17, with a live cinema relay and on-line broadcast on June 21 — for details click here.