WORKS: The Barber of Seville [in English]
PERFORMER: Alan Opie, Della Jones, Bruce Ford, Andrew Shore, Peter Rose; Chorus & Orchestra of ENO/Gabriele Bellini
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 7023/4 DDD
I’m not sure that there is any need for opera in the vernacular on disc, as opposed to in the theatre, but if we are to have it, then this is a really fine example, for the delightful English translation by Amanda and Anthony Holden is clearly enunciated by most of the singers, and ENO’s orchestra under Gabriele Bellini dispatches Rossini’s sparkling score with great zest. Alan Opie is an ebullient Figaro and Della Jones, though her ripe mezzo makes her sound a somewhat mature Rosina as she begins ‘Una voce poco fa’ (or rather ‘In my heart a gentle voice’), soon lightens in timbre and personality to present a thoroughly attractive and believable heroine. Peter Rose’s Basilio lacks comic personality, but Andrew Shore’s strongly characterised Bartolo is first-rate.
All these singers are ENO regulars, but the Almaviva is a guest, the American tenor Bruce Ford. His diction is exemplary, his singing admirably stylish, and his vocal characterisation of the amorous young count both lively and engaging. His Act I arias are so splendidly sung that I regret Almaviva’s being deprived – as in most performances of the opera – of his brilliant Act III aria and cabaletta, ‘Cessa di più resistere’. Charles Osborne