Glyndebourne audiences obviously like Rossini’s opera
Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville): this was the festival’s 110th performance since its first production in 1954.
Although Annabel Arden’s new staging makes passing references to Seville, not least by including a few oranges, she doesn’t set it in any specific time or place. Instead, Joanna Parker’s designs blend eras and styles, but the set, for all that it’s pleasing on the eye, isn’t really much more than a backdrop.
In front of it, Arden presents the comedy as a mixture of commedia dell’arte, music hall and circus. That works fine but as the singers spend most of the time playing straight out to the audience, the comedy eventually feels effortful, as if everything is being underlined.
Still, the cast goes at it with a will and there is no shortage of idiomatic technique. The most commanding presence is Alessandro Corbelli’s — he delivers a nicely detailed comic character study as Bartolo, the peevish old man who lusts after Rosina, his beautiful young ward. She is sung by Danielle de Niese, a vibrant stage presence and a vocal force of nature. If there are moments when the voice doesn’t quite achieve pinpoint accuracy, Rossini’s inordinate coloratura must shoulder the blame.
Taylor Stayton has the physical and vocal glamour required of Rosina’s resourceful suitor, while Björn Bürger’s zesty vigour makes Figaro, the titular barber, a believable Mr Fixit. Everyone benefits from the energy generated by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Enrique Mazzola: they are the production’s real powerhouse.