Possibly the best-known of Rossini’s operas, The Barber of Seville is nothing if not tongue in cheek. Luckily, for the opening night of Opera Australia’s season on the April 30th, it was clear that in this respect all were speaking exactly the same language.

The delightful leading cast eagerly embracing the eccentric personalities of their characters, with the male leads particularly impressive. Every time Jose Carbo took the stage as Figaro, his swagger, cheek and sheer enjoyment of the role lifted the already high energy levels. His and Count Almaviva’s (John Longmuir) duet in the opening scene was a highlight, as were Dr. Bartolo’s (Andrew Moran) constant imitations of the voice and gesture of other characters. While Rosina’s (Sian Pendry) two solo arias sounded somewhat breathy, her voice rang out wonderfully in duets and trios, and her fandango dancing was a show-stealer.

Another clear star of the production was the set, employing puppetry and false perspective to great effect in the opening scene. Dr. Bartolo’s house, the centre of the action for the remainder of the narrative, was decked out in the colourful style of the 1930s, and provided enough doors, rooms and confined spaces to emphasise the sheer absurdity of cramming the cast into them!

Mention must also be made of the excellent chorus, some of whom had the audience in fits of laughter as Dr. Bartolo’s comic patients. While the closing chorus of Act 1 needs a little tidying up rhythmically, the overall effect was polished and guaranteed to tickle the humours of the audience.

Get in quickly, this year’s Barber of Seville deserves to be a full house every night!