ETO’s new Barber cuts it in Hackney

English Touring Opera’s production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, which opened at the Hackney Empire on Thursday night, is, at first glance, a highly conventional affair. Set firmly in Beaumarchais’ late 1700s, with contemporary sets and costumes, and eschewing any extraneous business, it is a straightforward narrative of young love’s triumph over elderly Machiavellian scheming. If you think that sounds a little worthy and just a bit dull then think again, for this is a show that grabs the audience’s attention and holds onto it from start to finish, so accomplished is it in its wit and invention.

My full review is at Opera Britannia


Interview: Thomas Guthrie

English Touring’s new production of The Barber of Seville opens on 8th March at the Hackney Empire. It is directed by Thomas Guthrie, whose second production this is for the company following his well-received Fairy Queen last year. A former ROH Young Artist, he may be unique in that he enjoys successful parallel careers as both a singer and a director. Acknowledging that he was not originally enamoured with Rossini’s opera buffa, considering it to be a piece of froth often weighed down with extraneous business, his opinion changed when he had the opportunity to work on the Royal Opera House’s current staging. He worked alongside the production’s creators, Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, during its original run, and subsequently assistant directed a revival.

The full interview is at Opera Britannia