Review: Pop-up opera’s Il Barbiere Di Siviglia @ The Bull, Highgate
June 18, 2016
Last night I saw the finest, wackiest, and possibly the most perilous, production of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at The Bull pub in Highgate.
FINEST: As part of Pop-Up Opera’s 2016 Summer programme, they have produced a brilliantly adapted version of this well-loved work (incidentally the first opera to be sung in New York in Italian).
The story of the pioneering barber, Figaro, the secret love between Rosina and Count Almaviva and the dark desires of Dr Bartolo came together thanks to the team work between cast members. Flora McIntosh as Rosina and Jospeh Doody as Almaviva stood out with their faultless harmonisation and onstage chemistry.
WACKIEST: Many sceptics would argue that an opera without an orchestra isn’t an opera at all. However thanks to the one-man orchestra in the form of Berrak Dyer on keyboard, the cast was effortlessly supported. Dyer even managed to silently take part in the onstage antics – think Rolf from the Muppets but with much better hair and impeccable timing.
Rather than the usual subtitles one usually finds at operas, Harry Percival’s captions provided far more insight and humour to the story. The combination of hash tagged snippets and old-school silent movie slides appealed to all members of the audience.
PERILOUS: I am about as fond of audience participation as the next Englishwoman, however thanks to the intimacy of the venue the cast members completely got away with all sorts of physical high jinx. This included clambering over some of the (slightly older and slow-moving) members of the audience, carrying out a particularly vicious water pistol fight, much to the horror of my plus one, and the hurling of pub chairs over the heads of unsuspecting audience members. Good stuff.
Yet again, Pop-Up Opera have done it with a truly five star production, perfect for well seasoned opera lovers of first timers. Possibly their best production yet!
The show is touring around the south of England over the coming months. More info here.