2016.04.26 Barbiere Review News Image

If there was one lesson to be learnt from the Gaulitanus’ production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Aurora Opera House in Gozo is appreciate the October opera-in-Gozo for what you expect it to be, and look forward to the April opera for it will not fail to surprise you... in such an astonishingly positive way!


Posted: 26th April 2016
Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Gaulitanus Choir


100-points to Castiglione for the staging idea, the concept and the eventual delivery of the mise-en-scène. All the question marks flying through people heads at the sight of the set of block coloured frames had been extinguished and forgotten half way through the performance and replaced by exclamation marks, smiley faces and all sorts of upbeat emoticons.

The production went from strength to strength as the cast, one soloist after another brought his or her own character to life, as if from a picture frame. There was a lot of expectation for Nico Darmanin’s Gozo debut as Count Almaviva, partly because he was the leading Maltese singer and partly because he carries the name of the Covent Garden Royal Opera House where he has already successfully appeared. Indeed, he did not let anyone down. A fine balance between vocal prowess and stage presence, with the right dose of humour and sarcasm ensured the rousing applauses he deservedly received. He was flanked by a superb Marina Comparato who portrayed a very loveable and credible Rosina. Because, that is another challenge. How credible can you be in a humorous plot that is nowhere close to modern-day courting fashions? Comparato was, as were all of her counterparts.

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"...everyone sat back in full conviction that this will be added to the list of nights worthy of spending at the Aurora!"

Particularly cute with an apparent effective chemistry were Bruno Praticò and Marta Calcaterra, who interpreted Don Bartolo and Berta respectively. Praticò had an exceptionally good vocal command and he used the vast experience to his advantage. He showed his true colours in being a basso buffo di stoffa. Bulgarian Petar Naydenov owned the role of Don Basilio while the remaining Maltese baritone Joseph Lia complemented a really and truly cast di qualità... di qualità!

But, rightly so, the Barbiere’s own Barber stole the show. By no means did he overdo it. He was just right – vocally, scenically. He had the verve, he had the wit. He cruised his Largo al factotum without a trace of an effort and as he bowed to gain breathe while the audience complimented him with the hearty applause, everyone sat back in full conviction that this will be added to the list of nights worthy of spending at the Aurora.

Castiglione’s contemporary production, interestingly adorned by Sonia Cammarata’s costumes, was fun to follow. The final crescendo in Act 1 during the binge-drinking frenzy was very effective as the coloured frames glowed in sync with the rest of the ornate Aurora ceiling to the rhythm of the orchestra, conducted by Colin Attard.

Colin Attard must be going through a good year. Not only is he celebrating his 25th year as resident conductor at the Aurora, but his brainchild, Gaulitana continues to grow in size and stamina. He has also got a couple of significant international appearances (while he is currently judging the G. B. Rubini Contest in Italy). This Barbiere continues to mark his musical success both as an orchestra director and as a cultural agent of the best of sorts.

The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gaulitanus Choir showed meticulous attention to small details and could be felt enjoying their ride in this bandwagon of fun.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia was another successful night proudly hosted by the Aurora Opera House.

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