Review: The Barber Of Seville at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

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In a masterpiece of programming, Welsh National Opera is staging three productions at the Mayflower this week: two classic favourites and a world premiere, all with shared characters and sung in English.

Rossini’s The Barber of Seville is surely the funniest and sunniest opera ever written – but be warned, this production is likely to appal those who value traditional style above everything else.

Young theatre director Sam Brown achieves slapstick wit with a battery of visual gags that are as modern as the English translation, and at times that battery seems just too bewildering.

But if any opera can withstand such treatment, this is it – and even if the singing is of variable quality, the production has irresistible dynamism.

Nicholas Lester’s lean Figaro, the barber and arch-fixer, is an acting and singing charmer, and Claire Booth as the lusted-after Rosina relishes the vocal fireworks.

Young conductor James Southall ensures the production is musically stylish and bristling with energy. It not only ‘sings’ but ‘zings’ from the first note of the fizzing overture.

The week’s programme is completed by Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Elena Langer’s Figaro Gets a Divorce.

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