Sir Thomas Allen’s much-loved production of Rossini’s Barber of Seville tours Scotland

Sir Thomas Allen in Don Giovanni rehearsals in 2022. (Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic))

SIR Thomas Allen’s riotous production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville opens on 17 October at Theatre Royal Glasgow. First seen in 2007, this delightful comedy tours to Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen. 

Scottish Opera Music Director, Stuart Stratford, conducts Samuel Dale Johnson (Eugene Onegin and Pagliacci 2018) as the titular barber, with Anthony Gregory (Anthropocene 2019) and Simone McIntosh (making her Company debut) as the lovelorn Count Almaviva and Rosina. Also joining the cast are David Stout (Nixon in China 2020) as Doctor Bartolo, John Molloy (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022) as Don Basilio and two of Scottish Opera’s current Emerging Artists, Inna Husieva and Ross Cumming, as Berta and Fiorello. 

This revival, with a translation by Amanda Holden (Falstaff 2021), tells the story of barber and fixer, Figaro, who is enlisted by Count Almaviva to woo the beautiful Rosina. However, he first has to deal with Rosina’s guardian Doctor Bartolo who keeps her under lock and key with the intent of marrying her himself.

Director Sir Thomas Allen, who last worked with the Company on Don Giovanni in 2022, and The Magic Flute in 2019 said: ‘We perform this revival of Rossini’s great masterpiece, The Barber of Seville, in the English language rather than Italian. The comedy is brilliant, of course, and the plan is that we get as much from it as we can. Originally a great play by Beaumarchais, singing it in English allows the cast to relish the great fun of the piece. As with all revivals, we shall see what we took as our scheme from the beginning, but a completely new cast brings a new dimension, a new chemistry to the occasion and I’m looking forward to seeing it more fresh than ever.’ 

Scottish Opera General Director, Alex Reedijk said: ‘As we head into autumn, it’s a pleasure to welcome back Sir Thomas Allen, one of the greats of the world opera stage and indeed, our President, to revive this eloquent and beautifully observed production of The Barber of Seville. Rossini’s master comedy has been warmly enjoyed by our audiences over the years. It’s one of those operas, where even if you haven’t seen it before, the character of Figaro feels like a great friend whose company you love, so we are delighted to kick off our 2023/24 Season with this production, with all its musical prowess and theatrical charm.’ 

The production, supported by The Scottish Opera Syndicate, is a traditional, truthful piece of storytelling moulded by the masterly hands of renowned baritone Sir Thomas Allen, who brings a wealth of experience performing the opera to his role as director. Set amongst the bright colours of southern Spain with an 18-strong male chorus, period styling, a witty libretto and Rossini’s typically glorious music, The Barber of Seville is a cheerful, fast-paced production that is sure to charm Scottish audiences.

This Season, Scottish Opera is also offering Access Performances of The Barber of Seville in Glasgow and Edinburgh. With Dementia Friendly values at their core, these shortened performances are open to all. Performed by a full cast and orchestra, they also feature a narrator to take you through the story and introduce the music from the opera. There are wheelchair spaces and extra staff on hand to help. There is also a smaller capacity to allow everyone space, and brighter lighting levels in the auditorium, giving audiences the flexibility and freedom to move about as required.

Those who wish to discover more about how the production was created can attend The Barber of Seville Pre-show Talks, which delve into the detail of the opera. Tickets are free but should be booked in advance. Audience members with a visual impairment can enjoy the full opera experience at Audio-described performances, which have a live commentary describing the action on stage without compromising the music. There are also free Touch Tours of the set, and a live audio introduction before the start of the performance.

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