Christopher Walker reviews The Barber of Seville at opera Holland Park

The summer opera season is upon us, and it is time for music lovers to head to the parks.

Opera Holland Park deserves attention for several good reasons.

The standards are exceptionally high, yet compared to the nosebleed prices at Covent Garden you don’t have to be a non-dom to afford the tickets.

There is also something quite magical about actually sitting outside on a summer’s evening listening to such high-quality productions. Albeit noisy dogs in the park can be a distraction.

Cast and Chorus of The Barber of Seville, Opera Holland Park (Picture: Ali Wright)

This venue is also dedicated to showcasing new talent with its Young Artists programme.

It was this last factor which attracted me to their production of the Barber of Seville. Rossini’s prequel to Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro detailing the background to the Count and Countess in that opera finding love with each other.

There are of course some wonderful highlights, but I must admit It is not my favourite opera and it has to be said that Rossini does not quite have Mozart’s musical talent. The comedy can be rather slow and repetitive.

But it is seeing the wonderful new artists being given an opportunity which never fails to appeal. Their raw talent shines through.

Opera Holland Park Chorus in The Barber of Seville, Opera Holland Park (Picture: Ali Wright)

The plot concerns the young beauty Rosina (here played by fine voiced Ellen Pearson) who is being held a virtual captive by her guardian Doctor Bartolo. Samuel Snowden in this version successfully playing him as a bumbling British tourist abroad.

Count Almaviva has fallen in love with Rosina and is determined to spring her from this gaol. To do this he enlists the help of the barber cum conman Figaro.

Marcus Swietlicki is superb as the seducer, and how wonderful to see a production where the count actually is young and dashing so we do not get creeped out by his attempts to get something for the weekend from his barber.

Daniel Barrett finds all the comedy in the role of Figaro, as do Masimba Ushe and Faryl Smith in support roles.

The opera Holland Park season runs into August with so much to offer. For tickets go to

Pictured top: Paul Grant as Figaro and Stephen Gadd as Doctor Bartolo in The Barber of Seville, Opera Holland Park (Picture: Ali Wright)

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