(Michael Dervan’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 4/16.)
Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (Il barbiere di Siviglia) is a young person’s opera. It’s a story in which young love triumphs, as wily heroine Rosina wins out against the efforts of her greedy ward, Dr Bartolo, who wants to marry her for her inheritance. At the time of its disastrous first night in Rome in February 1816, its composer was just a week shy of his 24th birthday.
Director Michael Barker-Caven’s new Wide Open Opera production, with a highly mobile set by Jamie Vartan, updates the setting to the 20th century and the years when the LP reigned and Spain was ruled by General Franco.
Barker-Caven’s Dr Bartolo is a music mogul of some kind and Rosina is his latest find. This allows for a nice transformation of the opera’s singing lesson into a session in a recording studio with a wall lined with platinum discs.