The Barber of Seville, ETO, 2012

“Count Almaviva (Nicholas Sharratt) and his unruly musicians come on like figures out of Gilbert and Sullivan, their gestures choreographed with comic precision, while Figaro (Grant Doyle) makes an entry reminiscent of the Major-General in the Pirates of Penzance. Sharratt produced an engaging vibrato (and perfect diction); when Rosina (Kitty Whately) came on song, her sound had a chaste beauty but somehow lacked fizz. Only when Andrew Slater’s larger-than-life Doctor Bartolo appeared – followed by Alan Fairs’s splendidly grotesque Don Basilio – did the pace hot up, but once it had, the evening never flagged for a moment.

This was Rossini as sit-com, its jokes and ironies boldly semaphored for audiences unfamiliar with the plot, but still true to the original. Guthrie made lovely comedy out of Bartolo’s cack-handed way with tooth-extractors and amputation saws; as the young lovers’ flirtations grew progressively more carnal, Bartolo’s cuckoldry assumed the mantle of pathos.  Sharratt emerged in every sense the hero: a chameleon in manner, movements worthy of commedia dell’arte, and a commanding vocal presence.”

**** Michael Church, The Independent, 9 March 2012

 

“English Touring Opera’s new production of Barber of Seville is traditional with a twist.

English Touring Opera’s spring season for 2012 is one of its strongest in recent years, consisting of two fine yet simple operatic roadshows. Alongside a revival of James Conway’s Eugene Onegin, memorable for its haunting symbolism, there’s a new and refreshingly straightforward Barber of Seville in which the director Thomas Guthrie aims for eye-catching clarity.

Traditional with a twist – bearded “ladies” suggest that Figaro will never lack for customers – the Rossini is costumed in period. Yet for all the attractive airiness of Rhys Jarman’s mint-green sets, it is the panache of the performers that will doubtless win new audiences on this long national tour.

A strongly communicative cast makes the case against surtitles by delivering David Parry’s translation with a clarity that compels the audience to sit up and listen…Nicholas Sharratt is similarly strong as Count Almaviva, with a plangent tenor capable of negotiating even “Cessa di più resistere” withpleasing ease – albeit slightly telescoped, as the long opera is wisely snipped here and there.”

**** John Allison, The Sunday Telegraph, 12 March 2012

“…tenor Nicholas Sharratt has to sing Almaviva’s serenading aria to Rosina and he also had a tussle with the acoustic. He has a fine lyric tenor sound…and his difficult coloratura turn in the final ensemble was a triumph.”

John leeman, seen and heard international