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Opera Review The lasting charm of the all-time favourite

Audiences will be won over and cheered by the joyous humour of this classic, writes DAVID NICHOLSON

The Barber of Seville
Welsh National Opera

A RELIEVED audience celebrated the return to live opera in Wales as Welsh National Opera staged a triumphant return with a delightful production of Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.

The wily barber Figaro is played by Nicholas Lester with just the right amount of arch cleverness as he delights in helping Count Almaviva (Nico Darmanin) in his quest for love.

The production is played with the conceit of an opera within an opera and all of the key characters play their roles with humour.

The only niggle is Andrew Shore’s irascible Dr Bartolo when some of his spoken lines are inaudible.

But otherwise Shore is magnificent as the elderly gentleman hoping to marry his own ward, Rosina — beautifully sung by Heather Lowe — for her inherited money.

Count Almaviva loves Rosina and is determined to outwit Bartolo and enter his house to woo her. That is the scant plot as the sclerotic doctor tries to thwart each cunning plan devised by Figaro.

The finale to the first act is Almaviva arriving at the doctor’s house disguised as a drunken soldier billeted upon Bartolo.

The ensuing chaos has elements of farce about it as the knockabout action and outraged doctor delight the audience.

As the local police and townsfolk descend on this scene of chaos the majesty of the WNO chorus swells the sound and brings the house down.

The Barber of Seville is a good choice for the WNO to return to the indoor stage after such a long wait. It is funny and the music and singing are wonderful.

Touring until December 2 with details at www.wno.org.

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