Swansea City Opera Win Again At Theatre Severn

The Barber Of Seville

Swansea City Opera/Dinas Abertawe

Theatre Severn


If there is one spectacle you should witness in your life iit should be Theatre Severn working full tilt to create a magical show. If you have already, you will know how wonderful it is to see the orchestra pit open and hearing  live music emitting from within, you will know how it is to see the stage full of activity, you will have seen scenery changing and the space being used to its maximum worth. If you have seen all that that already, the chances are you will have experienced a Swansea City Opera show. You will also have heard Swansea City Opera Orchestra as their instruments bring such beautiful scores to life; thus re-enforcing any previous held views that S.C.O. are the hottest ticket around. Tonight was no exception as their own highly set standards were reached and eclipsed. This company get better and better. How do they do it?

One reason why may be their ability to find such depth in their characters, bearing in mind convention dictates everything has to be portrayed with music, gesture and song. What’s this, you think, why state the obvious? Well it’s not obvious until you see it done badly, then you start to understand the formula that makes Swansea City Opera  appealing not just in  Shrewsbury but Nation and Worldwide too.

Obviously the drama is character led and the plots are never really too challenging as the beautiful singing is what you really want to concentrate on. But that’s not to say the story isn’t important, far from it, Swansea brings every text to life with their strong characterisation, sublime singing, soothing music, beautiful timing and pure comedy.

This opera does have a few golden opportunities for comedy and each and every one was identified and nailed to the wall by Artistic Director Brendan Wheatley. The whole thing was punctuated by comedic situations, close on Brian Rix’s bedroom farce of it's day this one delighted the eager audience.

The central character is difficult to isolate as everyone’s character was totally justified in the narrative. One is of the opinion however that  for noticeability, Håkan Vramso’s is a name that belongs in opera he has an incredible voice and he made a treat out of the part of Figaro. William Wallace’s Count Almaviva was memorable too. However all characters found who they were and like pieces in a beautiful machine they all worked together to bring this hilarious opera to a 21st century audience. Quite a challenge for a story that first features in a play by Beaumarchais , written in 1816.

For pure comedic gold the character of Don Bartolo, played by Brendan Wheatley, was so well observed and rounded. Brendan not only directed but found time to perform too. He built up a beautiful veneer of character that really appealed to everyone and the audience were relieved when he turned out to be a goody.

In fact there are no baddies, rare? I know, but this is just an innocuous story of love and wealth. There was a bit of a struggle as to who was going to marry the beautiful Rosina but there was no blood shed and everyone ended as friends..

The part of Rosina was absolutely nailed by the adorable soprano sounds of Jessica Robinson. Gorgeously crafted notes that leave her mouth so powerfully, land excellently on the ear. She is great!

With simple scenery, flats suggesting outdoor and indoor scenes,  and an uncomplicated lighting plan,  the true focus is on what this incredibly talented bunch from over the border are capable of musically. The logical question presents itself as,  what next from these guys? This is at least S.C.O.’s third time to Theatre Severn and each time they steal just a little more of everybody’s heart.  Naturally one waits with bated breath.

An ambition or goal of S.C.O. is to engage youngsters and get them to connect with Opera. Well let’s face it if the young don’t interface (as they may call it) with this art form the performers will get less and less until they are all gone. Heaven forbid that appalling notion.

So keeping accessibility to the fore, making sure that families venture out together to catch the shows and  by making sure they are beautifully played and sung every time ensuring  the audience goes home entertained are all critical variables.

S.C.O. understand all of that and respond beautifully, again and again. Pure Welsh wizardry!

This is a Four Star Review

Owen J.Lewis


Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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