REVIEW: Barber of Seville, Mansfield Palace Theatre

MUSIC fans had a close shave at the Palace Theatre on Wednesday -- and loved every minute.

Their razor cut came courtesy of Swansea City Opera making a return visit to Mansfield near the tail-end of their 30-venue tour of ‘The Barber of Seville,’ which has criss-crossed the country from Barnstaple in the south, Ipswich in the east and Pitlochry in the Scottish Highlands.

This comic opera has delighted audiences for nearly 200 years, retelling the story of how young Spanish nobleman Count Almaviva uses a variety of guises and ruses to woo and win the heart of the beautiful Rosina, ward of the lecherous, old Dr Bartolo, who plans his own marriage to her.

The ageing, bridegroom-to-be was played with great style by Brendan Wheatley -- a local favourite when he brought his Opera Box productions to Bolsover Castle in the 1990s -- who was outwitted and outstepped by the wily Almaviva (Alexander Anderson-Hill), aided and abetted by the town’s resourceful barber, Figaro (Simon Lobelson).

Each and everyone of the eight-strong cast excelled in this taut and tuneful production, a welcome revival of the company’s 2005 success, which was easy on the eye and ear, especially with an updated libretto that helped give a modern appeal to an enduring classic.

@ Opera returns to the Palace on Wednesday 2nd November with a production of Puccini’s tragic love story ‘Madam Butterfly.’

-- T. S.