Saturday, 13 February 2016

Barber of Seville re-visited

After a relaxed day preparing for Sunday, a visit to the Millennium Centre for the new Welsh National Opera rendition of Rossini's 'Barber of Seville'. At the end of primary school, sixty years ago, the top class was taken from Ystrad Mynach to Cardiff's New Theatre for a WNO schools performance of this opera. I remember what fun it was, and although it was more than a decade before I went to another opera, the seeds for my life long devotion to this performing art were sown.

The Wales v Scotland rugby match was reaching half time when we got off the bus at the bottom end of Cathedral Road (due to road closures), and walked through busy streets to find the right bus stop to catch the number six 'Bay Car' we needed. Due to road closures, the route and stops for the six had been modified and there was a dearth of information. So, we ended up walking the rest of the way. As we'd left plenty of time, there was no panic about this, and we caught the second half of a string quartet performance in the foyer beforehand.

As is now so fashionable, the stage scenery was minimalist, and made clever use of mirrors, lights and translucent screens to frame the action. The ethos of the performance resembled that of a vaudeville farce, stylish, racy, and hilariously acted as well as brilliantly sung. It was sheer entertainment, played for laughs, almost mocking the romantic operatic genre, without losing the quality of the music or plot. Rarely have I laughed so much throughout. What a treat for the eve of Valentine's Day.

The contemporary English translation of the libretto is witty and funny, making it highly accessible to a much wider audience, but I missed hearing it in Italian. Some of the presto choruses are fiendishly hard to sing, regardless of the language, but English uttered rapidly sounds more percussive, like stuttering, less easy to understand. In contrast to the fluency of the Italian pronunciation better fits the excitement generated by the music. I wouldn't mind seeing it all over again. That's how much I enjoyed it.

At the bus stop afterwards, a merry Scotsman, celebrating his nation's narrow defeat commented loudly that I looked like Billy Conolly wearing my Basque Beret. Funny. The last spontaneous remark made to me in the street was from a Korean gentleman who told me he thought I looked like Sean Connery!

The city centre was crowded with people happily celebrating after the match. The number six dropped us by John Lewis' and there was a sixty one bus waiting for us when we arrived in Westgate Street, but it didn't leave for ten minutes. Road closures ended at eight, but buses are fewer and further between in the late evening, even on match days.

No comments:

Post a Comment