Barefoot Opera’s new take on The Barber of Seville

Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Chris Parker Photography
Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Chris Parker Photography

Barefoot Opera have never lacked initiative when it comes to finding new ways of presenting familiar works.

They have been touring a new production of The Barber of Seville to eight different venues, starting from Maidenhead on Thursday, September 26, and then continuing to Shoreham, Battle, London, Bourne End and Oxford.

The final performance will be at St Mary in the Castle, Hastings, on Saturday, October 26.

Director Jenny Miller drew her inspiration for the production from the Automata exhibition which was held on Hastings pier in spring 2018.

“The sheer joy of the pieces, the real sense of excitement they brought through the simplest of means, speaking directly to the viewer was exactly the rapport I knew we wanted for a new approach to the Barber. To help us create this atmosphere we are involving a children’s group, drawn from local primary schools and making one of the smallest sung parts – the servant Fiorello – into a much larger acted part to link the work together. We want to ensure that family groups and people of all ages, regardless of whether they have been to an opera before or not, will be able to relax and enjoy the whole experience.

“We are fortunate in having Oscar Castellino returning to us to sing Figaro. His performances are being supported by the Peter Heald bequest and we are delighted to work with him again.”

Barefoot Opera have spread their wings in the last few years and take a refreshingly different approach to the training of opera singers.

Jenny says: “We begin by stripping our voices down to basics: body, breath, movement and sound. We reconnect with basic human responses: laughing, sobbing, sighing – the elemental tone qualities that signal our ceaseless human interaction with our environment. This helps us to create characters, real human beings, rather than what can appear to be strange individuals who sing rather than speak.”

In April, at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, Barefoot Opera put on a taster performance of a specially commissioned people’s opera, Bloom Britannia, with music by Orlando Gough and libretto by Stephen Plaice. This was the first step towards a complete performance planned for next year and involved local performers not only in the presentation but also in the creation of the narrative and musical structures.

“Whether working with professional singers or local groups, our aim is always to ensure understanding and enjoyment, and we feel sure this new Barber will do so both for those on stage and those watching.”

Full details of Barefoot Opera events in your area can be found on their website www.barefootopera.com.

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