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Serena Kay's Rosina was a lively, sensible young woman; not too down to earth but with a good streak of practicality. Even without Figaro and Almaviva, you sensed she would not be too put upon. But she was also attractive; Una voce poco fo showed her to be firm willed, but not a vituperative termagant. Kay possesses an attractively warm light mezzo-soprano voice. Her vocal quality had the dark tones necessary in the role but she also sang with a soprano-ish lightness. Her way with the fioriture was completely apposite.

Christie proved adept at manoeuvring his cast around the set for the complicated details required by the plot. It helped that he developed the characters before indulging in too much physical comedy, so that by the time the high-jinks started happening towards the latter half of Act 1, we cared about the characters and the comedy never completely overwhelmed the drama, as can often happen in this opera.

It helped that Christie had an enthusiastic young cast who responded to his direction with an infectious flair for comedy. Particularly impressive was the Polish bass, Lukasz Jakobczyk as Don Basilio. A tall figure with a lovely dark bass voice, he proved to have rather a gift for physical comedy and an endearingly comic way with his gangly frame, which served to make Basilio a distinct character.

Christie's handling of the long, chaotic Act 1 finale was distinctly apposite. The action can often get rather static as it matches Rossini's set pieces, but here Christie kept an anarchic sort of narrative flow which made musical and dramatic sense. Here I must also commend the hard working chorus of three, who participated enthusiastically in the action as three Spanish policemen.

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Copyright © 24 September 2006 Robert Hugill, London UK


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