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Ensemble

A Modern Style

Pimlico Opera's 'The Barber of Seville',
reviewed by ROBERT HUGILL

 

Grange Park Opera mounts summer opera seasons at the country houses of Northington Grange in Hampshire and Nevill Holt in Leicestershire. But the company cooperates with Pimlico Opera which takes one of its productions on an annual autumn tour. This year Pimilco Opera is touring Ptolemy Christie's production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville which was first seen at Nevill Holt in July 2006. As at Nevill Holt, the opera was given by a cast of young singers as part of the Grange Park Opera and Pimlico Opera young singers schemes.

For the first stop on its tour, the company performed at Grange Park Opera's home in Hampshire, a purpose built theatre in the orangery of Northington Grange.

Christie and his associate designers George Souglides and Emma Ryott solved the opera's scenic problems by using a single set which depicted both the interior and exterior of Dr Bartolo's house, the structure of the house represented just in outline, like a drawing. The setting was roughly 1950s.

From left to right: Nathaniel Gibbs (chorus), James McOran-Campbell (Figaro, behind, just noticeable), Nicholas Sharratt (Almaviva), Lucasz Jakobczyk (Don Basilio) and Freddie Tong (Don Bartolo). Photo © 2006 Alistair Muir
From left to right: Nathaniel Gibbs (chorus), James McOran-Campbell (Figaro, behind, just noticeable), Nicholas Sharratt (Almaviva), Lucasz Jakobczyk (Don Basilio) and Freddie Tong (Don Bartolo). Photo © 2006 Alistair Muir

During the opening scene the action in front of the house was counterpointed with some comings and goings inside. Luckily Christie did not overwork this device so that the stage did not become distractingly over-busy. Andrew Conley was excellent in the role of Fiorello, Almaviva's servant. His focused tone and neat line in comedy meant that I regretted the character's disappearance so early in the opera.

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Copyright © 24 September 2006 Robert Hugill, London UK

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