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“a production which sparkles, and with no area of the production lacking” review by David Griffiths


Swansea City Opera, Riverside Theatre, Newport

Opera is a tricky subject to review because it spans so many different artistic areas: music, drama, writing, design. All of these different areas combine to create probably the richest of the performing arts, but it also means the critic must wear several hats while attempting to review the performance. Fortunately, Swansea City Opera have made my job a little easier by creating a production which sparkles, and with no area of the production lacking.

I can’t imagine the coffers of Swansea City Opera are overflowing so, first things first, it’s pleasing to note how much they’ve made of a little. The orchestra, such as it is, consists of 6 or 7 musicians, far less the usual complement, and yet they create a full sound which buoys the singing perfectly. The sets, while minimal, fully convey the sense of place.

Opera, as a genre, has an intimidating reputation for being intensely highbrow and unremittingly serious. But The Marriage Of Figaro is a farce, with all that entails: people hiding in closets, men dressed as women, and mistaken identities. With its 18th century setting, and story which revolves around a clever servant trying to outwit his master, it feels like nothing so much as a sung version of Blackadder. The characters are all drawn with broad strokes as objects of fun, a particular stand-out being Martin Quinn’s portrayal of the foppish dandy Basilio.

The singing in the production is of a uniformly high standard, with Rebecca Goulden giving a vivid performance as Cherubino, and Adis Nadirian shining as Figaro himself.

While I wouldn’t claim to have a specialist knowledge of opera, it was clear to me that this was an enjoyable, and well produced performance. If you’re looking a way into opera you could do a lot worse than this production, and, who knows? You might like it.


  1. Mr Phil Beecher says:

    Attended last nights performance (30/05/14) of Marriage of Figaro at the Garrick Theatre in Lichfield. EXCELLENT! Thoroughly enjoyed a superb performance. Thank you to all involved. Look forward to the Swansea City Opera coming again.

  2. Thank you very much for writing Mr Beecher, I’ll make sure that everyone in the company sees your kind comment. We’re thrilled that you enjoyed the performance and we really appreciate hearing from you. I hope we can come back to Lichfield next year, and if we do I hope to see you there!

  3. Rebecca says:

    We had a fantastic time in Lichfield. The performance was brilliant. Please keep coming to us!

  4. Thank you for writing Rebecca! We’ll try our hardest to come back next year!

  5. Myfanwy Kohll says:

    A group of us friends enjoyed Figaro in the Taliesin, Swansea. Ingenious sets, good singing and acting and spot-on chamber orchestra playing with verve and subtlety. Lovely musicianship, good English translation – completely delightful!

  6. Thanks so much for writing Myfanwy, it great to hear from our audience and I’m really pleased you enjoyed the performance!

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