GALWAY’S OPERA buffs are in for a treat as one of Britain’s most highly-regarded companies brings a new staging of Rossini’s The Barber Of Seville to the Town Hall for one night only on Wednesday June 10 at 8pm.
Opera UK is a vibrant young company with clear intentions about how it approaches its work. The company aims to put the ‘theatre’ back into opera by concentrating on the acting as well as the music. It’s an approach which sets Opera UK apart from many of its peers, as director Jane McCulloch explains.
“Our approach is quite unusual; the big opera houses prefer to go for famous singers who tend to be in their thirties so you often get the roles of young virgins being played by these matronly women,” she says. “I remember going to see Cosi Fan Tutte at the English National Opera a few years ago and I actually had to close my eyes and just listen to the music because the performers didn’t look believable in the roles even though they sang beautifully.”
McCulloch, a seasoned director who has worked with such luminaries as Derek Jacobi and Judi Dench, also emphasises the importance of the acting in Opera UK’s productions;
“Theatre is my particular interest,” she says. “In the opera schools the emphasis is on perfecting the music so they don’t really teach the basics of acting which means you often find opera characterisation can become caricaturish. I very much want to bring them back to the emotional truth of character and of the acting.”
Audience and press reviews of Opera UK’s work to date indicate that they are succeeding in their mission and the company’s first visit to Galway with The Barber Of Seville is certainly one we can look forward to.
It has been said that Rossini is the PG Wodehouse of opera. His characters get themselves into the most complicated scrapes and of course, mischief and mayhem ensues, while they all try to sort themselves out. Nowhere is this more evident than in his most famous opera, The Barber Of Seville.
Here, the notorious barber, Figaro, - Rossini’s answer to Jeeves - leads the way through the many intrigues of the tangled plot. However, this high spirited, merry romp also provides an audience with a string of operatic hits, set among the dizzying action. It is justifiably one of the all time favourites of the operatic repertoire.
Opera UK’s production features an English libretto by Simon Butterriss. The music is performed live by a piano quintet.
“It’s a contemporary take on the story,” McCulloch explains. “The setting is the latter half of the 20th century and, for instance, we have Rosina wearing a Marilyn Monroe-style halterneck dress. It’s loosely set in Spain of the 1960s and 1970s. We have a very funny translation and I think we also have performances that have made it real.”
The production has a cast of eight in which Adam Miller takes the role of Figaro, Belinda Evans is Rosina, and Martin Lambe is Don Bartolo.
For tickets to The Barber Of Seville contact 091 - 569777.