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Emma Jayakumar was a spirited, albeit less audible Cherubino: always vital, but (like so many Cherubinos) running out of freshness and fractionally thin, even vocally, at the end; but a bundle of fun, with an intoxicating whiff of testosterone. Daniel Grice's Figaro, whom Mozart makes rather peripheral after the start, gained in stature by the final Act, as jealousy reveals him as a man, not a stripling. Tenor Stephen Brown contributed handsomely, singing Basilio from the wings at short notice, Oliver White being indisposed.

But I've missed off icing. A pair of 'oldies', a bit like a pair out of Are You Being Served?, were this production's unmitigated delight: Kate Flowers' Marcellina, phenomenally witty and (unlike all too many overbearing Marcellinas) subtle and detailed: there were glimpses, intermittently, of operatic comedy at its finest; and baritone John Rawnsley's lovable Dr Bartolo (slightly quavering at the start, and thus fractionally drowned even by Monks' handful of strings).

John Rawnsley as Dr Bartolo and Kate Flowers as Marcellina
John Rawnsley as Dr Bartolo and Kate Flowers as Marcellina

Rawnsley is an old-stager with many a hilarious comic turn: it's a bit like watching 1950s costume drama or Music-Hall, with gags straight out of the RADA's dressing-up cupboard. Wholly apt for Bartolo -- the 'revelation' scene was an utter hoot. The icing on the cake was Rawnsley's Antonio (talk about a quick change!), peppered with a wholly different set of walks and gestures, brazenly presumptuous with his master, and handsomely sung. Like watching an Old Master.

Copyright © 29 January 2008 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK


Armonico Consort's Education projects have reached 31,000 children in the past five years, and its workshops have inspired hundreds of pupils, young singers and teachers. In January 2008 a major new project begins, with the foundation of the 'AC Academy'. With the creation of several children's choirs, Armonico Consort will set out to appoint the finest instrumental or singing teachers and eventually to offer lessons in most fields, creating further ensembles for children to make music together. Special subsidies will enable the less well-off and children of all backgrounds to participate.

Performance-wise, the Consort's The Marriage of Figaro visits Brighton (14-15 May), Bath (29 May), Dublin (31 May, 1 June), Chichester (1 July) and Birmingham Town Hall (8 November 2008).

Dido and Aeneas and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme will be launched at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival on 13 May and visit the Bury St Edmunds (16 May), Salisbury (4 June), Warwick (2 July) and Worcester Three Choirs Festivals (2, 3 August).

The Magic Flute is at the Bridgwater Hall, Manchester on 7 March and the Helix, Dublin on 5 and 6 April. On 4 July 2008 they revive The Fairy Queen at the Thaxted Festival.





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