Review: Barber of Seville, English Touring Opera, Snape, April 13

After exploring new and less frequented areas of the repertory in recent visits, English Touring Opera returned to Snape Maltings with two established favourites in Rossini’s Barber of Seville and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.

Although The Barber suffered a disastrous premiere in 1816, it soon recovered and established its popularity with its sense of fun and engaging tunes.

The well known overture was played with style and polish and featured some impressive wind solos. The first vocal milestone, Largo al Factotum, was well delivered by Grant Doyle, although the accompanying stage antics did not entirely convince. By the second scene the performance had thoroughly warmed up and all performers were enjoying themselves, sparking off each other and creating a good sense of momentum that bore fruit in the irresistibly comic sextet towards the end of Act 1.

Kitty Whatley gave an excellent performance as Rosina – she has a voice that is secure in all registers, a buoyant personality and her rendering of Una voce poco fa was delightful. Nicholas Sharratt was a busy and ardent Almaviva, his high notes without strain and carrying comfortably to the back of the hall.

Andrew Slater and Alan Fairs added plenty of character and humour to the roles of Bartolo and Basilio and other parts were more than capably filled. Conductor Paul McGrath kept the score moving and the crescendos and ensembles were securely controlled. The hard working orchestral players were on good form.

Full houses for both Barber and Onegin is a tribute to the artistic standards of this company and a demonstration of the loyal and appreciative following they have built up in an area where top quality opera is not exactly to be found on ones doorstep.

Gareth Jones