Barber review in Surrey Today

Some say that Gioacchino Rossini’s Barber of Seville (first performance in 1816) is the best comic opera ever written.

Beethoven admired it: “It will be played for as long as opera exists,” he once prophetically mused. It is known for an abundance of musical riches and variety of style.

Surrey Opera’s recent three-day run in Epsom of Rossini’s masterpiece well captured the poignancy and gaiety of the amorous plot with their proven attention to detail and excellent casting.

Jeremy Vinogradov played the title role in a jaunty style, with fine diction and convincing delivery. His introductory song, the famous Largo al factotum, set the seal so well in preparation for his various interjections as the plot develops.

He was well supported by Gareth Morris as the noble Count Almaviva, the determined suitor for the hand in marriage of Rosina who changes his personae twice to deceive her possessive guardian Dr Bartolo, well portrayed by Gabriel Gottlieb.

Melanie Lodge was perfect in the soprano role of Rosina, one that calls for much movement up, down and across the set.

Leon Berger impressed as Don Basilio, the Professor of Singing, while Katherine Price’s declaration as Berta, housekeeper to Dr Bartolo, that I Must Die a Sad Old Maid was poignant and serene.

The English translation by Amanda and Anthony Holden is well honed, the words and expressions have been carefully assembled. The set designed by Francesca Branch of Dr Bartolo’s courtyard house in Seville was a sturdy masterpiece of its own.

Mark Hathaway’s direction and Jonathan Butcher’s contribution as conductor and musical director brought out the vivacious spirit of Rossini’s ‘opera buffa’ in a skilful way, notching up another success for Surrey Opera who set themselves high standards – and never fail to deliver them.