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Vivid form

'Il Barbiere di Siviglia' at Covent Garden,
reviewed by ROBERT HUGILL


The majority of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia takes place within the confines of Dr Bartolo's house and the plot's sole concern is the freeing of Rosina from her confinement within the house. Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier seem to have taken this as the dominating theme of their new production of the opera at the Royal Opera House (seen on Saturday 14 January 2006). Christian Fenouillat's set is a simple box set within the Royal Opera House proscenium, its walls, ceiling and floor covered with Paul Smith-like pastel stripes. These colours, in more vivid form, are the base palate for Agostino Cavalca's costumes.

Joyce DiDonato as Rosina. Photo © Bill Cooper
Joyce DiDonato as Rosina. Photo © Bill Cooper

For Act 1 scene 1 (and for the entrances of the chorus in subsequent scenes) the rear wall of the box disappears and opens up the rear of the stage. In Act 1 scene 2, Rosina's incarceration is emphasised by the lack of doors, windows and furniture -- initially the box contains just a chair; other items (including doors and a staircase) are added only when needed. For the ensemble of confusion at the end of Act 1 Leiser and Caurier produced a stunning coup de théâtre -- the entire box started moving and gyrating alarmingly, echoing the characters' confusion.

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Copyright © 16 January 2006 Robert Hugill, London UK


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