About Time You Saw: A Glyndebourne OperaBy Gilly Hopper
Rossini wrote The Barber of Seville 200 years ago, reportedly in a period of just under three weeks (13 days by some accounts). Presented for a third time at Glyndebourne (the opera was last performed here in 1982), Rossini’s story of an amorous barber named Figaro is today dubbed his most popular comedy, crammed with all the fun and excitement you’d expect.
During Glyndebourne’s summer festival, John Christie’s East Sussex estate provides the ultimate backdrop for a daylong opera indulgence. Pruned rose bushes, bespoke picnic hampers catered by Leiths on the haha and today even a sunshine clad sky appeared, making for an utterly unfaultable setting. Perhaps it is the countryside air, but a distinct feeling of elation amongst operagoers is prevalent. Glyndebourne, despite its high price point, (check out the under-30s deals) offers a most encouraging environment for fans and newcomers of opera to experience the art form in its purest sense.
Frivolities and cushioned surroundings aside, an invariably idyllic production is never guaranteed. Thankfully, the lighthearted romantic comedy, beautifully led by conductor Enrique Mazzola, proved a decadent presentation with some top quality vocals.
“Figaro! Figaro! Fig-a-ro!” Björn Bürger (Figaro) introduces himself in act one with one of opera’s most famous numbers, Largo al Factotum (you know it – it was parodied in the 1945 Looney Tunes cartoon The Bunny of Seville, and Robin Williams’s does a mean rendition in Mrs Doubtfire.) The opening number marks the young baritone’s most finessed performance of the evening. Figaro is enlisted by the Count (Taylor Stayton), to help him win the heart of Rosina who is kept under lock and key by her guardian Bartolo. Naturally, Figaro helps to devise a plan involving disguise, foolery and confusion. Oozing with grace, craftiness and beauty, Danielle de Niese (Rosina) wholly embodies the bel canto heroine, showcasing her vocal athleticism with strength and ease. In this rompish opera buffa, it is wonderful to see Janis Kelly cast in the cameo role of maid Berta. With such strong vocal and dramatic abilities on stage it seems a shame that singers spend most of the time playing straight out to the audience, as directing by Annabel Arden leans towards lazy. Still, the overarching feeling on the night is most certainly a rapturous one.
Thinking of heading to Glyndebourne? Find all the information you need here:
- Preparing for your visit: www.glyndebourne.com/your-visit/
- Purchasing tickets: tickets.glyndebourne
- Lazy but curious: If you can’t make it to Lewes, you can also catch the production on Monday 25 Jul 2016 Prom 14 at Royal Albert Hall.
- Cinema goers: The production will be broadcast live in cinemas and on glyndebourne.com on 21 June.
- Experience another opera at Glyndebourne during the summer festival: www.glyndebourne.com/tickets-and-whats-on/season/festival-2016