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The Barber of Seville

Set in period Seville, with outrageous 18th century costumes that compliment the fizz and flare of Rossini’s musical genius, this production is perfect both for the established operagoer, and those seeking to engage with opera for the first time.

A young Spanish nobleman, Count Almaviva, is in love with the beautiful and rich Rosina, ward of the lecherous Doctor Bartolo, who plans his own marriage to her. Along comes the meddling Figaro, the town barber, and suddenly we have all the ingredients for confusion and mayhem.
From Figaro’s famous entrance aria ‘Largo al factotum’ to the frenzy of the Act I finale, The Barber of Seville makes for a rollicking evening’s entertainment, don’t miss this ultimate feel-good opera that is always cheerful and fun.

Sung in English and accompanied by chamber orchestra,  set designed by Gary McCann and outrageous costumes designed by Gabriella Ingram it will be performed by some of the finest singers and orchestral players in the country. Thanks to funding from ACE, ACW and Isle of Man Arts Council  we are also teaming up with fine local choirs to supplement our core of professional choristers. Our thanks go to them for undertaking the project so enthusiastically and professionally.

Touring to 21 theatres through the UK and the Isle of Man, audiences can discover more about the importance of design in staging an opera with our free pre-performance talks when Brendan Wheatley, Swansea City Opera’s Artistic Director, talks about the Rossini’s life and music and the challenges of creating a new production for the stage (please contact theatre for time).

All photos copyright of Guy Harrop

Cast & Biographies

Click on our cast members to find out more

  • Figaro - Håkan Vramsmo

    Håkan Vramsmo


    Håkan has appeared at major venues and festivals including the BBC Proms’ opening night, Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Stuttgart Liederhalle, Sibeliusacademin, Aldeburgh, Bath, and Cheltenham with such pianists as Iain Burnside, Julius Drake, Bengt Forsberg, Graham Johnson, Roger Vignoles, Llyr Williams and Andrew West. He has also appeared with the Hebridies Ensemble, Carducci Quartett, Gabrieli Consort, Sharoun Ensembles, BBC Symphony, Jerusalem, City of Birmingham, Bournemouth, English Chamber, Wroclaw, Zagreb, Barcelona, Gothenburg, and Malmö Symphony Orchestras conducted by Martyn Brabbins, Paul McCreech, Leonard Slatkin, Sir David Willcocks and Leon Botstein. He has frequently recorded for BBC, Private Joe by Panufnik for Polish radio, B-minor Mass on Signum Records and Elisabeth Maconchy’s opera The Departure for Chandos Records. His has sang 25 operatic roles and he created Axel in Meredith’s Tarantula in Petrol Blue, Carl in Colerige-Taylor’s Thelma and Pascoe in Huw Watkins’ In the Locked Room. Håkan teaches singing at Citylit Institute in London and is invited to Masterclasses at the Koninklijk Conservatoire Brussel.

  • Rosina - Annabella Ellis

    Annabella Ellis


    Annabella Ellis was born in Norwich, Norfolk, and is a graduate of Guildhall School of Music, Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Conservatoire Scotland ‘opera school’. At RCS Annabella performed Orlovsky (Die Fledermaus), Fiordiligi (Cosí fan Tutte), Mrs Coyle (Owen Wingrave), Tonina (Prima la music e poi le parole), covered La Mere/alto 5 (Le Vin Herbé) and Le Loup (Les malheurs d’Orphée). Additional opera roles include Mercédès/Carmen cover (Carmen), Sirene/Armida cover (Rinaldo) Longborough Festival Opera, Una Cercatrice (Suor Angelica) Dorset Opera, Drusilla/Amor (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Belinda/Second Witch/Sailor (Dido and Aeneas).

    In recital Annabella has sung Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben, Schumann’s Kerner Lieder, Falla’s Sietes Canciones Populares Españolas, Britten’s Les Illuminations, Dvořák Gypsy Melodies, Duarte’s Five Quiet Songs, Wolf-Ferrari’s Quattro Rispetti and Rossini’s Serate Musicali. Annabella has also taken part in concerts at the Wigmore Hall, LSO St Luke’s and participated in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Sighisoara Music Festival and Wymondham Music Festival. In the oratorio repertoire Annabella has performed alto solo both in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Bach’s B Minor Mass. Competitions include Maureen Lehane Finalist Wigmore Hall, Isabella Jay Aria (Third prize) and English Song (Second prize) RAM, winner of Norfolk Young Musician.

    Future engagements include Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) with Regents Opera/Opera à la Carte, alto solo in Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, recitals in Canterbury and London.

  • Rosina - Jessica Robinson

    Jessica Robinson


    Welsh Soprano Jessica Robinson recently graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama gaining a distinction in MA Opera Performance During her time at the RWCMD, Jessica also gained a first class honours undergraduate degree along with the Aneurin Davies memorial award, The Mansel Thomas prize, The Margaret Tann Award and the Elias Soprano award.
    Jessica appears in concerts all over the UK and Internationally in New York, China and Italy. Concert highlights include performing with the CBSO in a performance of Vaughan Williams’ ‘Serenade to Music’ for Radio 3, performing the soprano solos of Handel’s Messiah at the Wales
    Millennium Centre and most recently as a Soloist at the Royal Albert Hall for the 1000 Male Voice choir Gala. Operatic engagements include Countess Marriage of Figaro, Lady Billows Albert Herring and Fox Cunning little Vixen (RWCMD) , Nora Riders to the Sea (Bute Park Opera) Worker/Semi Chorus Gair ar Gnawd (Welsh National Opera/S4C) and Heavenly Voice (Grange Park Opera). Jessica is the 2016 Prince of Wales Scholar and is generously supported by the Worshipful Musicians’ Company Award, The Pantyfedwen Trust and The Arts Council of Wales.


  • Count Almaviva - William Wallace

    William Wallace

    Count Almaviva

    William Wallace studied at the Royal College of Music where his roles included The Mayor Albert Herring and Zweiter Preister Die Zauberflöte, and at the National Opera Studio, London, supported by the Nelly Groner Trust.  He received the Dame Hilda Bracket Award from the Sadler’s Wells Trust for his performance as The Schoolmaster The Cunning Little Vixen with British Youth Opera.

    As winner of the 2016 Handel Singing Competition (Regina Etz Prize) his performances for the London Handel Festival have included Messiah and Simeon/Judah in Joseph and his Brethren at St George’s Hanover Square.  His oratorio performances have also included Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle, Handel’s Messiah, Theodora, Judas Maccabeus and Acis and Galatea, Haydn’s Harmoniemesse, Saint-Saëns Christmas Oratorio, Bach cantatas, Magnificat and the Bach Passions.

    He recently performed Tamino The Magic Flute for Mid Wales Opera, Don Ottavio Don Giovanni for Opera Project and Prologue/Peter Quint The Turn of the Screw and Gastone La traviata at the Rye Festival.  He covered the leading role of Arbante Hipermestra at Glyndebourne Festival.

    William Wallace’s forthcoming engagements include Jonathan Alexander Balus for the Göttingen International Handel Festival, Grimoaldo Rodelinda for Cambridge Handel Opera Company and Handel’s Esther at the London Handel Festival.

  • Count Almaviva - Aidan Coburn

    Aidan Coburn

    Count Almaviva

    Aidan Coburn received an Honours Degree in Music from Cambridge University and completed Post Graduate Vocal Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD) where he was a Teaching Fellow.
    His operatic roles include Don Ottavio Don Giovanni, Brighella Ariadne auf Naxos, Herr Vogelsang Der Schauspieldirektor, Don Ramiro La Cenerentola and the Bricklayer The Adventures of Pinocchio (Dove).

    Aidan Coburn covered the roles of Pedrillo Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Don Basilio Le nozze di Figaro for Glyndebourne Festival Opera and sang the role of Lady Macbeth in the all male opera Macbeth by Luke Styles, Glyndebourne’s composer in residence. He subsequently took part in workshops of Hamlet by Brett Dean which was premiered at Glyndebourne in 2017.

    Aidan Coburn’s recent opera engagements have included Beppe in Donizetti’s Rita for West Green House Opera, and Mozart Mozart and Salieri by Rimsky Korsakov with Time Zone Theatre Ltd in the UK. He performed Spiridone in Donizetti’s Il campanello and the tenor solos in Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri at the 2016 Wexford Festival, returning the following year to sing Il duca Rigoletto in the short works.

    Aidan Coburn’s engagements in 2018 include Brighella Ariadne auf Naxos at Longborough Festival.

  • Don Bartolo & Production Director - Brendan Wheatley

    Brendan Wheatley

    Don Bartolo & Production Director

    Brendan Wheatley was born in Hinckley, Leicestershire and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was awarded a three-year scholarship on the performers course. Another scholarship awarded to him at the end of this course enabled him to attend the Opera Course for a further year but this was cut short when he auditioned for Glyndebourne Festival Opera and was immediately offered a contract.
    Brendan sang for three seasons with Glyndebourne, making his debut as The Keeper of the Madhouse in the internationally acclaimed production of Stravinsky’s The Rakes Progress, designed by David Hockney. After leaving Glyndebourne, Brendan pursued his career as a freelance singer working with many companies both in Britain and abroad, and has now sung many major roles – from Don Giovanni to The Flying Dutchman – he also created the role of Figaro in the world premiere of Giles Swayne’s Le Nozze di Cherubino. His concert and oratorio work has taken him to such prestigious places as The South Bank, Royal Albert Hall, Huddersfield Town Hall and many cathedrals and churches throughout Britain. In 1989 he founded the touring company Opera Box with his partner Bridgett Gill and in 2004 the company received funding from the City and County of Swansea, and became Swansea City Opera. Over the years Brendan has directed and designed many operas for the company.


  • Don Basilio - Paul Hudson

    Paul Hudson

    Don Basilio

    Paul studied at the Royal College of Music and the London Opera Centre. He has made over 600 appearances in principal roles with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.

    Other roles of particular note in the UK include: Philip (Don Carlos) and Raleigh (Gloriana) with ENO; Colline (Boheme), Athlete (Lulu) and Bottom (Midsummer Night’s Dream) with WNO; Figaro (Marriage of Figaro) and Daland (Flying Dutchman) with Opera North.

    International engagements include performances in Dallas; in San Francisco as Colline (Boheme), Bailiff (Werther) and Dansker (Billy Budd)); in San Diego as Swallow (Peter Grimes); in Pittsburgh as Sparafucile (Rigoletto); in South Africa as Fiesco (Simone Boccanegra) and Don Basilio (Barber of Seville); in Australia as Mephisto (Faust) and Figaro (Marriage of Figaro); in Buenos Aires, Chile as The King (Aida); in Japan, Spain and France.

    Paul has a number of DVDs on release including ‘Lucrezia Borgia’, ‘Fanciulla del West’, ‘Pirates of Penzance’, ‘Ruddigore’ and Bach ‘Magnificat’. His CD recordings include works with Solti, Bernstein, Boulez and Levine.

    Previous roles with Swansea City Opera include: Sarastro (Magic Flute), Basilio (Barber of Seville), Nourabad (Pearl Fishers) and the title role of Don Pasquale.

  • Berta - Imogen Garner

    Imogen Garner


    Mezzo soprano Imogen Garner is increasingly in demand as an operatic and concert performer. Most recently she covered Paulina in The Winter’s Tale at English National Opera. In 2016 she covered Lulu’s mother in Berg’s Lulu and sang the role of the Mother in a workshop performance of Nico Muhly’s Marnie at ENO. In previous years Imogen has covered 2 roles in Martinu’s Julietta and has sung excerpts of the lead role in a new Opera written by James Ellis and Louis de Bernieres at the Hay Festival on behalf of ENO. She joined the Extra Chorus of ENO in The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and The Mastersingers of Nuremburg.

    Imogen will shortly be returning to the Buxton Festival for her fourth year to cover Florence Pike in Britten’s Albert Herring. She has previously covered Orfeo in Orfeo, Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor and Irene in Tamerlano. In 2015 she sang the roles of Elise, La Glaneuse and La Premiere in Charpentier’s Louise at the Festival and she has sung the mezzo soprano solos in the BBC Radio 4 Morning Service broadcasts for the past three years.

    Imogen has performed very regularly with Heritage Opera singing the following roles Third Lady in The Magic Flute, Giovanna in Rigoletto, Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Annina in La Traviata and Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro.

    In 2014 Imogen toured with Swansea City Opera and Young Opera Venture singing Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro. She returned to Scottish Opera to join the Chorus in a concert performance of Turandot. She has previously performed Madama Butterfly and Lucia di Lammermoor with SO. Imogen sang Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana for Opera Seria at the RNCM and in 2013 she played Mrs Grose in The Turn of the Screw for Steel Opera and Martha in The Flying Dutchman for Focus Opera.

    Imogen sings regularly with Choral Societies all over the UK and has performed alongside the Manchester Camerata. She is an accomplished recitalist and has performed widely in the North including at the Bridgewater Hall. A graduate of Economics from Sheffield University, Imogen studied as a postgraduate at the RNCM.

  • Fiorello - Mark Saberton

    Mark Saberton


    Mark studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and comes from Suffolk. He has sung with many opera companies including Royal Opera, English National Opera, Opera North, Raymond Gubbay, Scottish Opera, Garsington Opera, Longborough Festival Opera, Opera Holland Park, Mid Wales Opera and Savoy
    Opera Roles include Mephistopheles (Faust) and Schaunard (La boheme) for Swansea City Opera; Bottom Midsummer Night’s Dream) for Longborough Festival Opera; Antonio (Marriage of Figaro) for Garsington Opera at the Barbican conducted by Jane Glover; Narumov (Queen of Spades) for Opera Holland Park; Krusina (Bartered Bride) for Mid Wales Opera, and the Hotel Waiter/Boatman (Death in Venice) for the Aldeburgh and Bregenz Festivals under Paul Daniel. He has recorded the role of Ben Budge (Beggars Opera) with the City of London Sinfonia and Royal Opera conducted by Christian Curnyn. He has recently been working with English National Opera on the role of Zurga in The Pearlfishers by Bizet.


  • Tenor chorus - Richard Hansen

    Richard Hansen

    Tenor chorus

    New Zealand born Tenor Richard Hansen has completed a Master of Music and Postgraduate Diploma in Solo Performance at the Royal Northern College of Music with Thomas Schulze.

    Richard’s Operatic roles have included Don Basilio and Don Curzio (Le Nozze di Figaro), Monostatos (Die Zauberflöte), Ruiz (il Trovatore), Gaston (La Traviata) Iro (il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria), Tamino (The Magic Flute) Nemorino (l’Elisir d’Amore) Count Almaviva (The Barber of Seville) Nanki Poo (The Mikado), il Judice (Un Ballo in Maschera), Frederick (The Pirates of Penzance), Mr Upfold (Albert Herring), Box (Cox and Box), Camille (The Merry Widow) and Remendado (Carmen). He has also appeared with the chorus of Opera Holland Park, Opera Rara, Scottish Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, Opera Australia, and the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company.

    Most recently, Richard covered Parpignol in Scottish Opera’s La Boheme and appeared in the chorus of their revival of Sir David McVicar’s La Traviata,. Upcoming engagements include Monostatos in Opera Anywhere’s Magic Flute and an appearance in Scottish Opera’s Eugene Onegin.

  • Tenor Chorus - David Fortey

    David Fortey

    Tenor Chorus

    David is a graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where he gained a Bmus (Hons) Degree and a Postgraduate Diploma. Whilst at the college David was awarded the Manning Prize for Tenors and the Sir Geraint Evans Vocal Scholarship. Operatic roles at RWCMD include ‘Albert’ in Britten’s Albert Herring, ‘Tamino’ in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, ‘Tom Rakewell’ in The Rakes progress, ’Jupiter’ in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, and ‘Tobias’ in Sondheim’s Sweeny Todd for Welsh National Youth Opera. David began his professional career with Glyndebourne Festival Opera Chorus and Garsington Festival Opera.
    Since 2008, David has been a principle member of the classical Brit award-winning male ensemble Only Men Aloud. He has recorded extensively on television and radio and was privileged to be part of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games. Sought after as both a chorister and soloist internationally his versatility on the concert platform has given him the opportunity to work with some of the finest musical ensembles in some of the world’s most prestigious venues.

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  • Musical Director - John Beswick

    John Beswick

    Musical Director

    John has been Musical Director for Swansea City Opera since 2014 and he is also currently Principal Conductor of Redhill Sinfonia. John was organ scholar of Hertford College, Oxford before postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music (repetiteur) and The Royal College of Music (conducting).

    Since making his opera conducting debut at the Dartington International Summer School with Rigoletto, he has conducted for companies including Pimlico Opera (The Elixir of Love, The Barber of Seville and Cosi Fan Tutte), London City Opera (Carmen, La Traviata and Madame Butterfly) and Swansea City Opera (Lakme, La Boheme, Faust, Don Pasquale, The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute and The Daughter of the Regiment). He has also worked on the music staff for Icelandic National Opera and Grange Park Opera.

    In Music Theatre he has conducted many shows, including Les Miserables (West End), Miss Saigon (UK Tour), Avenue Q (West End) and Damon Albarn’s opera Monkey: Journey to the West (Monkeys’ World at the O2), and he has also played keyboards on a great many others including Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde and The Full Monty.

The Barber of Seville Synopsis

The Barber of Seville Synopsis

Act One

Count Almaviva has fallen in love with Rosina, ward of the elderly Doctor Bartolo. As the opera opens, we see the Count’s servant, Fiorello, secretly organising a band of musicians to assemble outside Bartolo’s house. The Count enters and sings a serenade for his beloved: Ecco ridente in cielo (See how the dawn is breaking). After the performance, the Count is so generous in his payment of the musicians, that their noisy gratitude threatens to disturb the neighbourhood and ruin the Count’s plan to present himself as a poor student. Peace is further disturbed however when we hear the rumbustuous off-stage singing of tralalalera. Figaro, the eponymous barber, enters and sings the immortal bravura aria Largo al factotum (I am the factotum of the town) (please see essay: ‘The Barber in Performance’). The Count and Figaro are evidently well acquainted and the Count immediately takes Figaro into his confidence: he is in love with Rosina but her jealous guardian keeps her under strict surveillance and the Count is unable to arrange a meeting. Figaro, Mr Fixit that he is, has the answer: it just so happens that he is barber to the Bartolo household and he will be very happy to act as go-between.

The two are helped in their plan by Rosina’s decisiveness and spirit: she has noticed her anonymous suitor and contrives to drop a letter from her balcony, asking his name. Almaviva replies in the exquisite arioso Se il mio nome (Fair Rosina, this man here before you) that he is called Lindoro, he is young and he is poor. The Count and Figaro decide on a plan: the Count will pretend to be a soldier and tell Bartolo that he has been billeted on him; in this manner he will be able to enter the house with ease.

The next scene takes place in Bartolo’s house. Rosina sings an aria Una voce poco fa (There’s a feeling so divine) that reveals her character in a very short space of time: she is normally all sweetness and light but let her once be crossed and she can become a little devil! Bartolo enters and confronts Rosina about Figaro whom he already suspects is helping her: Rosina admits nothing, so Bartolo shares his suspicions with Rosina’s music teacher: the seedy scandal monger, Don Basilio. Unsurprisingly, Basilio advocates a campaign of slander to discredit the secret admirer. La Callunia (Defamation)

Basilio and Bartolo leave and Figaro seizes his chance to have a word alone with Rosina. He tells her that his ‘cousin’ ‘Lindoro’ (that is, Count Almaviva) is madly in love with her and suggests she might like to initiate contact with a letter. Even the street-wise Figaro is nonplussed when the crafty Rosina reveals she has written the letter already Dunque io son, tu non m’inganni (Can it be? I don’t believe it). Bartolo enters once more to question Rosina: has she or has she not been sending letters to an unknown admirer? A un dottor della mia sorte (To a man of my importance).

Almaviva now enters, disguised as an army veterinary officer who is to be billeted with Bartolo. Bartolo shows him his letter of exemption but the ‘officer’ rudely rejects this. In the subsequent noisy confusion the police arrive, ready to arrest the unruly soldier, but when Almaviva reveals, in secret, his true rank to the officer in charge, the latter, and his soldiers, spring to attention. The act ends with all characters dumbstruck with amazement and confusion.
Act Two begins with the arrival of ‘Don Alonso’ (in reality the Count: again!) who claims to be a music teacher, substituting for the sick Don Basilio. Bartolo is even more suspicious of the music master than he was of the drunken soldier but ‘Don Alonso’ allays his suspicions by producing the letter Rosina sent to the Count and claiming it was given to him by one of the Count’s mistresses.

The music lesson proceeds on a grand scale: there is even a contribution from Bartolo, but it is interrupted by the arrival of Figaro, who insists on shaving him, even though the Doctor protests he doesn’t want a shave! The whole thing is, of course, a ruse to allow Rosina and the disguised Count a chance for a moment of comparative intimacy, but the course of true love is disrupted by the arrival of Don Basilio, who is obviously not sick at all! After some considerable confusion, however, Basilio, with the help of a substantial bribe, is persuaded that he is rather ill after all……………. Despite all this ingenuity, Bartolo discovers that the Count and Rosina plan to elope and throws the plotters out of his house.

Bartolo shows Rosina the letter given to him by the Count (see above) and excites her jealousy. In a fit of pique Rosina agrees to marry Bartolo.

After a most expressive musical evocation of a storm, Figaro and Almaviva climb up to Rosina’s room and explain all the confusions. The lovers are about to elope when Figaro discovers that their escape ladder has gone! This is only a temporary set back however, because when the notary arrives to marry Rosina and Bartolo, he is easily persuaded to marry Rosina and the Count instead. Even Bartolo is reconciled to this after the Count makes it very much worth his while financially. The opera ends with a joyous finale, celebrating the triumph of love.

Press Reviews

Press Reviews


The Barber of Seville, City of Swansea Opera

February 21, 2018 by Ceri Gibbon

With my last visit to the opera being over 30 years ago, I was unsure what to expect. I love the theatre but had reservations that I would be out of my depth. However, I was reassured by the audience entering the theatre that the performance was for everyone and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Yes, there were times I was unsure what was happening and, yes, I couldn’t understand all of the words sung (despite being in English) but the synopsis and acting were enough to guide me. Unlike the fast paced world we live in, it was an unusual pleasure to sit back and enjoy watching events unfold.
There were times when I needed to refer to the programme to read the scene synopsis, but this was probably a lack of preparation and time on my part. It was reassuring to read that Act 1 ends with ‘amazement and confusion’!
The original Andrew Gallagher production is revived by Brendan Wheatley, who also plays Dr Bartolo with comic aplomb. The use of Gary McCann’s cut-out style of sets for Seville grew on me especially when I saw how it was combined with the lighting. The changing colours and intensity of the lighting from James Thomas, added to the drama on stage from the dark red intense scenes to the brightly shining comedy moments.
The costumes were impressive, in keeping with the characters and added to the performance. The simple rolling down of a sock and undoing of a button was a clever, amusing way to change Count Almaviva, sung by William Wallace, into a drunken soldier! In the leading role of Figaro, Hakan Vrasmo had that extra stage presence, a sense of genuine comedy timing and believable ‘swagger’.
I enjoyed the comedy, it made for the perfect introduction to opera, removing the sense of it being out of reach, or an art for the elite. Subtle changes to costume, gestures and word substitutions mixed with blatant silliness, kept me focused and smiling.
I was reading the synopsis as I watched to be sure of the plot but I’d research it further in future to make sure I had a better understanding of the roles. Unlike a book or a movie, I don’t think knowing the ending would spoil the performance, I think it would have let me enjoy it more.
I think anyone who’s nervous or unsure should try this opera. It has something for everyone and I while I don’t know if I’ have been converted to being a huge fan, it’s made me feel I want to go again. I’d be happy to recommend The Barber of Seville to friends, especially those who looked on in disbelief I said I was going to the opera.
Music, singing and acting, mixed with good company, what was not to enjoy?



The Barber of Seville, Rossini, City of Swansea Opera

February 20, 2018 by Mike Smith

February 21, 2018 by Mike Smith

If there was a relationship between the clearly discernible audience enjoyment of a performance and the funding the company receives City of Swansea Opera would be presenting new productions season after season rather than having to revisit old shows to save money.

Fortunately, the fresh and youthful performances from the younger cast members, balanced with some fine character singing and playing from, dare I say, slightly older artists, and a bravura leading man ensured this not “just” a revival.

The Barber of Seville, sung in English, has a pretty gimmick free translation by Bridget Gill, fun costumes from Gabriella Ingram and is pretty much played for as many laughs as it could get. It does so without descending into outright farce and compromising the singing and so does not fail to delight audiences – and that means not just opera aficionados but those who are just giving this form of musical theatre a try. It is an excellent choice for those not sure if opera is for them and with ticket prices for the touring show usually no more than £20 this is where to take a punt rather than another certain company.

This Andrew Gallagher production, revived by the company’s joint artistic director Brendan Wheatley, is clean and uncluttered, lots of jollity with the characterisations, such as Paul Hudson’s ridiculous Don Basilio and Wheatley himself playing a hilarious Dr Bartolo. His performance is as a singer-actor is completely melded into the role, he really makes it his own.

Count Almaviva, sung by William Wallace, is a charming, slightly lanky, young chap which works perfectly, as a love-struck young aristocrat who needs a worldly Barber to help him win the hand of Rosina.

Annabella Ellis is his feisty Rosina who is more than a match for both the lecherous guardian, Don Basilio, and is as wily as Figaro himself.

Both of these singers give bright and refreshingly zestful singing performances matched by their comedy presence and timing.

Hakan Vrasmo sang a confident and rather full of himself Barber, fairly swaggering around at times and with a rich baritone that gave a sort of gravitas to his role, between the prettily sung youngsters and character older characters.

The voice of older sense Berta, sung by Imogen Garner, was also given a bit of a fun reading, with her not only vocally expressing her frustration but also flashing  a shocking red ribbon/ garter as she lifted her black, old lady dress.

Gary McCann’s cut-out sets are perhaps over-necessarily practical but they do the job, although I found some of James Thomas’ lighting design confusing. Similarly, some of the choreography for the full-voiced and extremely enthusiastic chorus, here members of the Canton Chorus and Haverfordwest Operatic Society, was messy and dramatically added little to the scenes were they appeared.  I found the humour from the musicians at the opera’s start a bit leaden and, generally, I would cut down on the prancing about as the show doesn’t need it to be entertaining and charming.

Yet for what this company has to spend they perform miracles and with Swansea City Opera orchestra, under John Beswick, surfing the singers through Rossini’s frisky score and gorgeous lyrical arias and passages, this is well worth a smile-inducing evening out.

Swansea City Opera – The Barber of Seville
New Theatre, Cardiff
Tuesday 20th February 2018

Seeing opera at Cardiff’s New Theatre has over the years become less of an experience. With Welsh National Opera finally getting an official home at the Wales Millennium Centre back in 2004, its previous venue would be mostly bereft of the art form (though the odd piece from Music Theatre Wales was staged).

Look no further than Swansea City Opera and it’s mega touring production of the always popular The Barber of Seville. Rossini’s opera is a delight and never fails to win over an audience. Though they might not be a familiar name, I was curious to see how well this revival works.

Utilising a set entirely bone white, the scorched Seville colours we know and love are here completely abolished. This creates a purity, as we see the characters go about there business as if they are almost in a graphic novel, the lavish colours of their own clothes brightening our eyes. There is humour here, yet I always feel there could be more wit, more slapstick when it comes to this great operatic comedy.

The story of Figaro (the barber in question) and his attempts to help Count Almaviva woo fair Rosina, is the backbone of the show. Though she is locked away by the cruel hand of Doctor Bartolo, the attempts to pass her notes and for her escape, are where the real comedic elements come into play. There is dressing up, mistaken identity and misunderstanding, all hallmarks of Commedia dell’arte, the genre which highly influenced theatrical comedy for centuries.

The singing was decent, though not groundbreaking. Making a fine Rosina is Annabella Ellis, very much the Spanish flower, which all the other characters seem to adore. Her voice, whether singing her glorious arias or the many duets, trios and ensemble parts heard within made for essential listening. Figaro is here played by Håkan Vramsmo, very debonair and cocky as the cunning barber who deals with the mechanics of the operation of getting the Count to Rosina. A firm baritone voice, which I found desirable to hear in more weighty dramas.

As Count Almaviva, William Wallace was the young, tall tenor who may need to find peace with the high notes and not force them so much. Though a great presence, his many guises as a drunken soldier and music teacher, add feathers in his cap for humour and vulgarity (at one point he dubs Doctor Bartolo: Doctor Fartolo!). As both director and said Doctor, Brendan Wheatly is a humorous outpouring of silliness. Whilst not the most remarkable voice, he makes up for with tight comic timing, theatrical poise and direction which is pleasant and pithy. Paul Hudson is the silver faced, lavish dandy Don Basilio (what outstanding headwear!), who steals the show. An impressive bass voice, which could rival the earthquake which rocked Wales the week prior, (the presence of the lowest voice is always welcome in opera). Every time he came back, I smiled with glee.

The addition of the maid, Berta getting an aria is also a nice consideration from Rossini. Here, Imogen Garner slips in and out of the drama, revealing a red garter to lure a man who would be lucky enough to get in her grasp. The chorus here is in great need of tighter directing. The opening scene with the musicians to serenade Rosina, was overplayed with rock style gesturing with classical instruments, is not very funny. The grabbing of each lead grabbing their hands and swaying back and forth is another troupe well overused in comic opera and should never be done again. Ever.

With John Beswick conducting and the small set of musicians in the pit, they melded the work into being, with the always fun overture and throughout the entirety of the whole opera. My only quip is the harpsichord setting on a keyboard, which is in need of slight dampening and an actual thunder sheet instead of the sound effects. Budget considerations, I guess.

This is one of the more accessible operatives endures in Wales for 2018. With decent ticket prices, a massive tour scheduled and the fact it is Barber itself, we expect many an audience to revel in this production.

From The Sprout


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 it 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

The Barber of Seville review at Borough Theatre, Abergavenny – ‘zany and entertaining’

by Steph Power for The Stage –

With its mile-a-minute patter, and more visual gags than you can shake a tickling stick at – Imogen Garner’s Berta wields a duster just so – this Barber of Seville surely owes a debt to the late, great Ken Dodd.

There’s cartoonishness, too, in the skewed perspectives of Gary McCann’s cardboard cut-out set; a backdrop for crazy antics in flouncy period costumes (by Gabriella Ingram), pitched somewhere between music-hall, pantomime and classic Gilbert and Sullivan.

Whatever the inspiration, one feels Rossini would enjoy director Andrew Gallacher’s zany treatment of his celebrated opera buffa, revived by Brendan Wheatley for Swansea City Opera.

It’s a rough diamond of a production with no pretensions otherwise – and is highly entertaining; not least since the cast are well matched and have an easy comic rapport, supported by conductor John Beswick’s eight-piece Swansea City Opera Orchestra.

Performed with unselfconscious brio, the sometimes fluffed coloratura, dodgy orchestral intonation and general slipping on rhythmic bananas just adds to the puncturing of Bartolo’s pomposity; a star turn from Wheatley himself, matched in pace and presence by Annabella Ellis (a splendidly refusenik Rosina); Aidan Coburn (a winsome, boyish Almaviva); Paul Hudson (a ghastly, puffed and powdered Basilio) and, especially, by Hakan Vramsmo as a loveable, larger-than-life Figaro.

Many comic touches are missed if you blink, but – like Fiorello’s air-guitar mandolin (Mark Saberton) and Vramsmo’s actual guitar serenade, complete with Spanish rasgueado – are integral to the action.

Others – like the prancing choreography – just avoid crossing from slapstick to slapdash. But this is a show well worth seeing – and a company well worth supporting.



Opera | The Barber of Seville: Swansea City Opera


The Barber of Seville

Swansea City Opera and Orchestra

Director: Brendan Wheatley
Musical Director: John Beswick
Set Designer: Gary McCann
Costume Designer: Gabriella Ingram
Orchestral arrangement/Conductor: John Beswick

Borough Theatre, Abergavenny
17th March 2018


It was a bitterly cold night and there were flakes of snow in the air, enough to keep anyone at home in the warm and in front of the TV. But the crowds turned out to the Borough Theatre in Abergavenny to see Swansea City Opera, which must have been a relief to the theatre management, currently struggling to get enough income from ticket sales to survive beyond the next six months.

Swansea City Opera must also have been relieved to get a good audience. Like all in the arts these days, it faces its own financial restraints, one reason it has chosen for its 2018 tour to revive a production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville from 2011. In the original production, SCO Artistic Director Brendan Wheatley played the role of curmudgeonly Don Bartolo, guardian and would-be husband of Rosina. Wheatley declares in the programme notes that this is one of his favourite roles; for this season he has combined it with taking on the job of stage direction, the director of the original having since died. Set and costumes are revived from 2011.

The Barber of Seville is related to Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro insofar as they are both based on comedies by the French playwright Beaumarchais and the main characters are the same, but playing out different scenarios at different stages in their lives. In both operas Figaro plays a prominent part as a fixer, controlling the destinies of the other characters by his manipulations. Cast as Figaro the eponymous barber here was Swedish baritone Håkan Vramsmo, who has taken roles in several past SCO productions. He was vocally sound but seemed to me a little uncomfortable in the role, not fully commanding the action as his character demanded, and indeed as his physical height should have enabled. Having said that, his classical guitar playing was a nice touch and I very much enjoyed him singing as a trio with the would-be lovers Count Almaviva and Rosina.

Count Almaviva (Aidan Coburn), Rosina (Annabella Ellis). Don Bartolo (Brendan Wheatley, with the cane) & more look on. Photo: Guy Harrop

Tenor Aidan Coburn and mezzo Annabella Ellis were well-matched as Almaviva and Rosina. Both combined vocal intensity with charm, had good diction, showed great dexterity in their coloratura singing and acted extremely well. Impressively, Coburn was a different character vocally when masquerading as Don Alonso, the substitute for the supposedly unwell music master. The roles of Almaviva and Rosina are double-cast, so that SCO is laudably providing four up-and-coming professional singers with substantial experience and exposure on this tour, which takes in 21 regional theatres in total.

Paul Hudson reprised the role of the music master Don Basilio which he took in the original production. In remarkable make-up and a hat which threatened to up-stage him, he cut a striking figure. With his rich bass voice and stage presence he made a strong contribution, as did Brendan Wheatley, clearly enjoying himself hugely playing the basso-buffo role of Don Bartolo.

Don Bartolo (Brendan Wheatley), Don Basilio (Paul Hudson). Figaro (Håkan Vramsmo) hides under the table. Photo: Guy Harrop

This is a comic opera. The success or otherwise of the comedy depends in part on the delivery and ornamentation of the vocal lines, which was, overall, very well done. In particular, Brendan Wheatley showed his versatility as a singer, delivering a section of Don Bartolo’s patter song, ‘A un dottor della mia sorte’ (To a man of my importance) through clenched teeth with a paintbrush held between them at one point, and at another breaking into falsetto.

Whether or not the opera is actually funny also depends on the acting, itself to a large extent determined by the direction. Here I felt the production was more uneven. This is a 19th century Italian opera, set in a monochrome ersatz 17th century Spain in 18th century-style costumes, so an eclectic mix to start with, but even so Mark Saberton as the Count’s servant pretending to play his lute à la Jimi Hendrix was anachronistic without being particularly funny.

Fair enough that the action in this production should be played with a nod to pantomine – there was for example a nice near custard-pie moment – but I felt that the action lacked unity and was over-busy. The rushing about during the storm scene distracted me from the interesting orchestration; the weaving of the characters up and down the line at the end of Act One in something that didn’t quite become a dance seemed similarly pointless.

This said there were scenes in which I enjoyed the ‘business’ very much, particularly the episode when the supposedly sick Don Basilio arrives and is persuaded that he is ill after all, when the five main characters sing the quintet ‘Buona sera, mio Signore’ (Fare you well then, good Signore).

Amongst the secondary characters special mention is due to mezzo Imogen Garner, playing the role of Dr Bartolo’s housemaid Berta. I thought she characterised the role beautifully, and that her aria, alone on stage lamenting her loneliness, ‘Il vecchiotto cerca moglie’ (The old man seeks a wife), stood in poignant counterpoint to the frenzy of most of the opera.

Count Almaviva (Aidan Coburn), Fiorello (Mark Saberton) & musicians. Photo: Guy Harrop

Any musical production has to find a balance between characters simply standing singing and movement around the stage. It also has to be careful to avoid pointless gesture. Too often this is where amateur productions fall down. Involving groups of amateur singers in different venues for chorus numbers as SCO do means that they have to beware of people ‘sawing the air’. Here, singers from Gwent Bach Society and Haverfordwest Operatic Society were the chorus. In the opening scene a small group was onstage as a motley band of musicians, so I felt that the disparate movement and gesture was appropriate – and a particular hurrah to the tambourine player here for what I thought was actually very nice gesture. In later scenes the chorus were mostly sensibly corralled behind a scenery wall, where their job was confined to adding to the vocal texture.

There was a good balance of sound between the singers and the reduced orchestra of five strings plus wind players – plus conductor John Beswick in keyboard for the recitative sections. Gary McCann’s cardboard cut-out style sets were functional, giving enough context to the action without being overly complicated. Gabriel Ingram’s costumes for Don Basilio and Count Almaviva in his Don Alonso subterfuge were great fun, and I have to give another mention to the fantastic rolled-brim hats!

I fully recognise the scale of the enterprise which Swansea City Opera take on with their annual tours (as well as their smaller shows and outreach work). I applaud the commitment of Brendan Wheatley and his co-director Bridgett Gill in continuing this work in what must feel like an embattled environment. English-speaking audiences appreciate opera sung in English as these are, especially in houses where no surtitles are possible. I also recognise that SCO’s operas, including this one at its Abergavenny performance, receive very enthusiastic audience responses, and that Brendan Wheatley has a devoted following. These things count for a lot.


The Swansea City Opera bought their fabulous production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville to the Theatre by the Lake last week and a full house was treated to an evening’s entertainment of sheer, unadulterated joy.

Such was the ebullience of the performances, it was as though the cast had come fresh from rehearsals and they were eager to show the audience what they could do. What they could do was put on a performance of the very highest quality that was a delight from the first notes of the overture, to the final curtain calls.

Nicknamed by some the ‘Italian Mozart’, Rossini composed the Barber of Seville in 1816 and after an inauspicious debut, the comedy has become a staple of the operatic repertoire since then and a huge favourite with music lovers.

After the tuneful overture, the opera opens with the entrance of Count Almaviva, tenor William Wallace, who has fallen in love with Rosina, the ward of the elderly Don Bartolo. The Count tenderly sings a serenade for his love, ‘See how the dawn in breaking’ and pays the musicians who have accompanied him.

Mr Wallace performed the aria with great skill and delicacy and his performance throughout as the youthful Count was hugely enjoyable, very believable and bought the character to life.

The eponymous barber Figaro, baritone Hakan Vramsmo, soon enters singing the very well known bravura aria ‘I am the factotum of the town’ and the performer cast a very impressive figure. His command of the stage throughout was masterly, his comic timing was impeccable and his rich, powerful baritone was very impressive.

Figaro and the Count plot to win Rosina’s love and with her help they hatch plans for her to escape from Bartolo, who wishes to marry her himself. Rosina, soprano Jessica Robinson, sings the aria ‘I’ve a feeling so divine’ brilliantly and her character was expertly revealed. The sopranos performance was full of spinetingling exuberance throughout and her smooth voice was a delight to the ear.

Bass Brendan Wheatley as Don Bartolo and bass Paul Hudson as Rosina’s music teacher Don Basilio played their parts with huge aplomb and excellent comic timing and after many funny escapades the young couple are finally united.

Solos, duets, trios, quartets and quintets were all sung with equal skill and the famous Rossini crescendos were delivered superbly by all.

Cast members Mark Saberton, Imogen Garner, Richard Hansen and David Fortey all played their parts very well as did local singers who took part in the chorus.

Great credit must go to the young orchestra and musical director John Beswick who skillfully revealed Rossini’s musical talent and operatic art.

The minimalist sets were very effective and along with the evocative period costumes and make up contributed to a fantastic two and a half hour production filled with beautiful music, song, dance and laughter of a consistent high quality.


Audience Reviews

Audience Reviews

Torch Theatre Milford Haven

We saw the performance seven years ago which we enjoyed and which prompted us to see it again. We found every aspect of the show of a very high standard for a small company. Thank you

Hi. Just want to say what an absolute treat the Barber of Seville was.
Went to the Torch in Milford with my wife, not having been to an opera before. We both loved every minute of the production. So funny, great singing, fab orchestra…a brilliant night out.
Thank you all very much.

New Theatre Cardiff

Thank you for my first experience of opera, totally appreciated it
Outstanding performance
First time I have ever been to an Opera. The Orchestra were excellent and the scenery was simple but effective. The performers sang beautifully and performed with a sprinkling of comedy throughout. All in all a very enjoyable evening!
first opera for me and very entertaining

Fantastic performance of Il Barbiere di Siviglia/The Barber of Seville in Cardiff this evening.
Well done all involved!

There’s not much to say except FANTASTIC!

Great evening Swansea City Opera New Theatre Cardiff watching The Barber of Seville, fabulous, definitely recommend if near you #Bravo!

Barber of Seville at the New Theatre
Absolutely Fantastic !

Congratulations to everyone at Swansea City Opera for a fabulous show of #Barber this evening! Wonderful show, wonderful cast!

The costumes, singing, acting and humour all contributed towards an excellent performance. Please come back again!

Aberystwyth Arts Centre

The singing was excellent, enjoyed very much

The pre-show talk was very interesting and gave me a better understanding of the opera.

Thoroughly enjoyed the Barber of Seville this evening. Many thanks to cast, orchestra and crew – a great performance.

It was great fun, well sung, well played. I hope that you survive the funding cuts.

Palace Theatre Paignton

a wonderful evening of live orchestra and witty song Theatre Paignton the Barber of Seville with the astounding Swansea Opera superb! still smiling

an astounding day!  opera performance of that quality and a wonderful orchestra surpassed the Scotland game and definitely the Villa. loved it all

Quality performance of Barber of Seville by Swansea Opera at Palace Theatre Torbay last night Great to see opera of this standard at smaller venues. Can’t wait to see the next one!

Fabulous Barber of Seville Theatre Paignton last night with the witty, inventive and gifted Swansea Opera. Full house. Blast of Mediterranean summer in the February gloom. Don’t miss it!

Thoroughly enjoyed all aspects especially the live orchestra which is quite rare these days. Please come back again.

It was a great performance with brilliant singers, and the extra entertainment seeing my sister on stage as part of the amateur chorus. A truly uplifting evening, warming a cold winter’s evening and clearly the hearts of everyone there.

Enjoyed very much, I love theatre and I love opera!!! Will definitely come again!

It is a wonderful idea to create an opera company which not only brings high class performance to the most unlikely of venues such as Paignton, but also is prepared to include very amateur singers like myself to be part of the company.

We came last year to see Lakme and enjoyed it so much we wanted to go to this year’s performance. We went last Saturday with another couple who had asked to join us as they are both very musical and wanted to see the Barber. Mike, who I used to work with, only listens to opera and classical music, while his wife is a music teacher and performs in 2 orchestras. She has ex pupils playing in top orchestras in Germany, USA and the UK. We attended the pre-show talk which like last year was excellent. Anne and I who are non-music buffs found the talk understandable, informative and very listenable, while both our friends said they learnt things about the opera that they did not know and found it very entertaining. Anne and I found this year’s performance fabulous, obviously the opera is more light-hearted and uplifting than Lakme, but the singing, music and acting were second to none. I was worried about what our friends would think as they regularly go to Covent Garden and further afield to watch operas, but they both said the performance was the best they had seen and that the singing was excellent. All 4 of us were glad that the performance was ‘traditional’ and performed in the essence of the original period. We are all hoping that Swansea City Opera will come to Paignton again next year!

Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds

Enjoyed very much. The opera was well suited/well adapted to the smaller stage. the performers very much appeared to enjoy the production and got well into character. English translation well constructed and much appreciated.

Preshow talk very informative and enjoyable – and a great privilege. Thank you.

Theatre Severn Shrewsbury

Absolutely brilliant! Good costumes, superb voices. Cracking good evening’s opera !!! From 4 Greywavers!

Fine singing, acting, costumes and good orchestra. An enjoyable evening.

Brilliant! A pity more people were not here to enjoy it. Thank you.

Having recently moved from close to London within reach of good drama/opera/ballet venues, I was more than delighted to encounter Theatre Severn, and it is a joy to have access to such professional groups…..please come to us again!…….and again!

My congratulations to you and to all concerned in the superb presentation of The Barber of Seville in Shrewsbury on March 10th. Everything was marvellous – the music, sung and played, the drama and the many delicate extra touches of fun. The whole production was a true gem. I only regret the sparse audience – you deserved a full house – to overflowing…Many thanks for a marvellous evening.

Borough Theatre Abergavenny

Swansea City Opera always does excellent performances and it is a delight to attend. Barber on Saturday was no exception.

Thank you for an excellent and most enjoyable performance of Barber of Seville at the Borough Theatre. The usual excellent standard of cast and orchestra!

Very good staging, lots of humour.

Brilliant interpretation, comedy hilarious, singing gorgeous, great set and costumes. Aidan Coburn, Hakan Vramsmo mention for voice. All cast for comedy. Well done local singers too.

Excellently done – cast not only sang well, but really acted the part too. Congrats to the orchestra too – did a fine job despite being only a small group.

Wilde Theatre Bracknell

Enjoyed very much. We go every time Swansea City Opera come to Bracknell

Very strong cast. All principals very good. Rosina excellent.

Theatre Royal Winchester

I thoroughly enjoyed the production, I thought the singers, musicians, costumes and set were excellent. HAving lived in London I have seen many operas in large venues. Now in Winchester there’s a lot to be said fo attending opera in small venues – better sight lines, hear and see the performers better. Feels closer and more personal. I hope you visit Winchester again.

Lively and imaginative production, excellent singing and acting.

We thoroughly enjoyed your Barber of Seville at Winchester last week. Excellent band, wonderful singing and great acting/stage sense enhanced by a brilliant multi-purpose set. To be honest, we thought your performance more entertaining than the 2016 Glyndebourne production.
Please carry on bringing your excellent company to the provinces..

Taliesin Theatre Swansea

Enjoyed very much. Quality of voices, liveliness and freshness of the whole production. Excellent and informative pre-concert talk.

Just a quick thank you to Swansea City Opera and the Taliesin Arts Centre. Your performance of The Barber of Seville was the first live performance I’ve ever attended (and indeed opera that I’ve watched), I’ll have to start going to more.

Outstanding performance in Taliesin theatre this evening. The entire production was unforgettable.
Well done to all involved.

An excellent production of The Barber of Seville. 3 generations of my family went to see it and we all enjoyed it immensely. Thank you for a fantastic evening.

Excellent singing and acting, good fun, Effective but simple scenery


Palace Theatre Mansfield

The pre-show talk was good as usual. It always adds to the evening’s entertainment. Lovely sense of fun about the performance, with superb singing! Thank you & best wishes to Swansea City Opera.

Enjoyed very much, it was so funny!

Great music, great performance! Thanks again for coming here.

The Octagon Yeovil

I really enjoyed your Barber of Seville at Yeovil’s Octagon last night. How great to have live opera in our small town miles from the nearest opera house. The singers were all excellent with Jessica Robinson’s performance being especially memorable as she not only has a lovely voice but her acting was superb making for a delicious combination. Aidan Coburn has a great voice too and his love-making was suitably impassioned (though I should love to have seen the state of their marriage after 5 years or so!) I remember Paul Hudson as a superb Don Pasquale a few years ago and it was great to hear his rich voice again but why was his face covered in soot-coloured make-up rather than the usual white & rosy of the 18th century? One thought: the choreography could have been better. At times the performers’ movement across the stage was a bit muddled especially when the chorus was there and I feel that good choreography could have added more to the comedy. Do you have your own choreographer? Also, we couldn’t always hear the words not that the plot was difficult to follow. What we could hear was a great translation. Of course best of all was the lovely music, especially the many lovely arias and the wonderful set pieces where several performers sang together. A great evening; please keep up the good work. I hope Swansea City will revise its funding decision as you are a great advertisement for the city – possibly better than Swansea city Football Club with its struggles!

What a wonderful evening at the Octagon, Yeovil last night. The pre-opera talk by Brendan Wheatley was very informative and the opera was huge fun from beginning to end and very professional. The Barber was the first opera I was taken to as a child by my parents in 1953 in Naples. Please come back to Yeovil soon!

Enjoyed very much. Well acted with the cast interacting very well – they looked as if they were enjoying it.

Thoroughly enjoyed the show – very professional and great to have opera in my local theatre. Looking forward to your next tour.

The Barber is a beautiful opera, and this performance respected the greatness of the work and was strong both musically and dramatically.

Great fun!

Town Hall Maesteg

An absolutely wonderful evening of beautiful music with such talented craftsmanship of voices & instruments. this was a very much appreciated return of an adept opera company. Come back soon!!!

The Stiwt Rhosllanerchrugog

We attended the performance of Barber of Seville at the Stiwt, Rhosllanerchrugog. The whole evening was most enjoyable, the pre-performance talk and the opera itself. The venue was nearby (about 2 miles). We have been to previous productions of Swansea City Opera in Shrewsbury + Pwllheli and have always enjoyed them so knew of the reputation of the company. We are seniors and enjoy classical music and opera. The production was splendid, the singers and the orchestra; I was able to speak briefly to the conductor afterwards and thank him for the contribution of the orchestra. which added greatly to our enjoyment of the production. We will be very likely to attend another opera if the opportunity arises.

The Gaiety Theatre Douglas Isle of Man

Quite simply a Tour de Force ! Enjoyed every minute. Glad we attended pre- show talk. It was both entertaining and very informative. Congratulations to all your highly talented team including stage and costume designers. Lovely to have live quality music.
A huge BRAVO!
Please come back to the Isle of Man very soon.!…to our beautiful Frank Matcham theatre.

What a splendid evening and thank you for travelling over the water to visit us in the Isle of Man. It was a real joy to see such a wonderful production in our lovely Gaiety Theatre. The production and singing were wonderful. We look forward to your return.

Lovely to see and hear professionals in our gorgeous Frank Matcham theatre.

The performers were great character actors also! Fab voices, but Figaro stole the show clearly. I smiled and laughed – what a great way to finish a busy day. Thank you!

The cast & the orchestra were superb! A most enjoyable evening. Please include the Isle of Man in your 2019 tour.

Enjoyed very much. Enthusiasm of singers & orchestra infectious, wonderful staging & strong singing & orchestra.

I really enjoyed this opera, it was very funny and exciting. Sincerely Katy – age 9

Brilliant company, excellent orchestra, very well done. Please come again.

The talk was very informative, and the performance of a high standard.

Wonderful evening, very enjoyable to watch and listen.

Neuadd Dwyfor Pwllheli

Thank you for a great performance in Pwllheli Neuadd Dwyfor. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The only thing I regret is that there were so few people. Please don’t let that stop you from coming back!

Ucheldre Centre Holyhead

Excellent talk, very informative and humorous. Voices and acting all good.

Theatre by the Lake Keswick

We’ve just enjoyed your fabulous production of the Barber of Seville in Keswick.
The pre show talk really set the scene and the entire evening was one of rollicking good fun – including the fire alarm alert. A very well cast production and all on stage seemed to be enjoying it as much as the audience.
We shall seek you out again!

Attended the performance at the Theatre by the Lake on 28th April,and it was sold out. Need performances of this calibre in smaller halls throughout the country if the larger opera companies are to flourish.
The soloist were excellent, living up to their individual CV’s Because I was a later attender I had a commanding view of the Musical Director his input and control was impressive. See again,hopefully soon.

Well it was with a fair bit of trepidation and a dash of nerves, that my friend and I took our seats for the pre-talk to the performance of Swansea City Opera’s The Barber of Seville. Why? Simply because we were Opera virgins ! More accustomed to the atmospheric build up to a major band rock concert than the sedate filling of the stalls and circle in the small but perfectly formed Lakeside Theatre Keswick..
So it was with great relief that Brendan Wheatley Artistic Director, took to the floor in front of us to explain the whys the wherefores and the mechanics of what we were about to witness. This was both informative , interesting, and not without humour! A worthy and highly reccomended intro that eased us into the world of Opera .
To the actual performance, a comedy, skilfully translated/ adapted into English by Bridgett Gill, to which we were truly grateful, being our first time it was fantastic to actually understand the music!
The whole package, from the music, the mini orchestra, in perfect harmony with the on stage performers which added extra life, and comic suggestion to the performance. The use of colourful costume,again providing comic relief (the interaction between Don Bartolo and the oversized hat of Don Basilio). Also the clever use of the plague masks that provided a historical link to the city of Seville which saw a quarter of its population devastated by this terrible event, provided proof of a well thought of and executed performance. This together with the use of suggestive scenery,not overpowering, but a compliment which worked well with the cast to enhance a fantastic theatre experience. All of which packed down into a three and a half ton van!
Well done! Your obvious heart felt endeavours have paid off, what a fabulous evening that had us crying with laughter from the outset (the Angus Young AC/DC wannabe on the mandolin) Bravo,two new tentative recruits to the fold, The Marriage of Figaro here we come!

Spa Theatre Bridlington

My first experience of opera although worked in live theatre for over 20 years. Very much enjoyed it and easier to understand because of pre-show talk and in English. Staging was great.

A very good total package – singers, orchestra and production team. Enjoyed very much

A pre-performance talk always adds to enjoyment of the show. I love opera anyway, but loved your show – very polished, wonderful singer/actors. I (now 85) used to sing with Nonsuch Opera in my youth, I have been to Cardiff for WNO.

Made us laugh and talk was very informative and answered many questions. Thank you very much.

Very impressed with the performance overall, especially the singing and acting of the principals. Some very good humorous moments. Hope you manage to return to this theatre!

The show was so funny & the voices were exquisite. Loved the acting.

Harrogate Theatre Harrogate

We experienced your wonderful production of Barber in Harrogate last week. Many congratulations to you all – singers, imaginative and effective scenery, costumes and band – all were excellent. Thank you and please keep up these great provincial tours – we enjoyed every minute of it!

Saw this show in Harrogate, fabulous! So energetic, funny and the singing was truly wonderful! Thank you for a memorable performance and wonderful evening.

Wonderful performance at Harrogate tonight. Thank you

We saw the performance in Harrogate too and really enjoyed it! So much energy, wonderful staging, a fantastic orchestra and of course fabulous singing. A very witty production, couldn’t have been bettered! Thank you

Excellent talk especially for the newcomers to opera. Also more in depth info re libretti for those who love opera. Great singers. Good luck to you all.

A little note of appreciation to you all – a truly stunning performance tonight at Harrogate Theatre (Friday 4th May). We love your performances, they never disappoint. Sets, traditional costumes (which we love) chorus and spot-on casting of your outstanding soloists were all excellent. A long and demanding opera performed with freshness and enthusiasm. Thank you for a really enjoyable evening. We are glad that you feel your company does not need to shock by stooping to cheap sex gimmicks, it demeans performers, makes audiences feel uncomfortable and is unnecessary. Operas have stood the test of time on their own merit. It is also counter-productive. In our own case, we have stopped going to Opera North and especially taking family or guests as we feel we cannot trust the company and do not wish to be thought of to ‘like that sort of thing’. They forget that there are always people experiencing opera for the first time and it should be at its enduring best instead of using sex to pander to the jaded. So please  keep up your high standards and we look forward to your next visit to Harrogate.

The singing was fabulous and the acting great. However I was disappointed that it was in English. This focuses on the words & not relaxing and enjoying the music. I would suggest in the future you perform opera in the original language it was written in. Nevertheless we did enjoy it.

Middlesbrough Theatre

Singing was superb. Acting professional. Staging well beyond ticket price! Better than Opera North. How do you do it?

Loved the whole show, singing, comedy. A thoroughly enjoyable evening, top notch, I’ll definitely come again when you’re next here!!

Original and well done and very enjoyable presentation added to the opera: well sung.

Fantastic performance. I enjoy opera, professional and amateur. Thank you for the experience and being able to bring a friend who has not been before.