Elegant and funny animated version of Rossini's masterpiece
Il Barbiere Di Siviglia(The Barber of Seville) was my first Rossini and is still my favourite. Having been really impressed by the other episodes in the Operavox series, especially Rigoletto, I had high hopes for this and they were generally met. I was mixed on the spoken voice acting though, Figaro has the subtle rougish charm as you'd expect, Bartolo is genuinely amusing and somewhat bumbling and Basilio has that booming sonority and the closest-matched to the singing for the role. Almaviva's voice actor however has a tendency to over-enunciate and Rosina's somewhat too airy-fairy. The spoken dialogue, not in the actual opera but is here in place of the recitatives and because it's funny and moves the story on it's not a problem. The puppetry animation is not as nuanced or detailed as that for Rigoletto but still elegant and warmly coloured. And the facial expressions and gestures match the comedy perfectly, especially good were La Calunnia and the end of Act 1. The music is cut(this is only half-an-hour) but still has the sparkling charm it ought, the orchestral playing is lively with lovely tone, and the conducting is efficient. The English translation is not as literate as that for Rigoletto and Rhinegold but it doesn't undermine the fun and charm of the opera in any way. The singing is very good indeed. Donald Maxwell was a little better as Escamillo in the Operavox series but still makes for a dapper, funny and beautifully-sung Figaro. Patricia Bardon brings a silky rich mezzo to Rosina, while Peter Bronder has a flexible top and a nice baritone-like middle. Andrew Shore fudges the pattering somewhat in what there is Un Dottor Della Mia Sorte, but his energy and heartily produced voice more than makes up for things, and John Connell sings Basilio every bit as resonantly and thrillingly as he did with Sarastro and Fasolt. All in all, elegant, funny and well-sung, very well done overall. Had the spoken voice-acting been more consistent I would have liked it even more. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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