‘A delight from start to finish’ – review by Philip Radcliffe for Manchester Theatre Awards
Swansea City Opera
Buxton Opera House
13 April 2014
All credit to Swansea City Opera for producing a touring version of Figaro that is pure pleasure, a delight from start to finish.
Free from gimmicks but focusing on the elegance and merriment , with all its silly games of hide-and-seek, deception and mock disguise, Brendan Wheatley’s direction is detailed and fluent. He also enjoys himself in the comic cameo role of the yokel gardener.
It is beautifully staged, with white set and trappings and colourful 18th-century costumes, designed by Gabriella Ingram.
The all-round singing and characterisation of the nine-strong cast is of a high standard. And it is sung in English with refreshing clarity. In the role of Figaro, Iranian Aris Nadirian makes a convincing fixer and is nicely partnered by Helen Massey as Susanna, his bride-to-be, desired by the Count. There was a neat bit of casting between her and Cherubino, Boltonian Rebecca Goulden, in that their physical discrepancy, one tall and slim, the other short and plump, made their role-swapping ruse even more ridiculous.
Manchester-born Andrew Mayor has real presence as Count Almaviva and Elin Pritchard, previously seen at Clonter, was more than a match for his philandering. Her eloquent Act 3 aria is a highlight.
John Beswick conducts with great spirit and alertness. The production won an enthusiastic reception from the knowing Buxton audience. Well done, Swansea.
Reviewer: Philip Radcliffe