Monday, November 10, 2014

Gertrude Opera's effervescent production of The Magic Flute

Athenaeum Theatre
Thursday 6th November, 2014

When the performing arm of The Melbourne Opera Studio, Gertrude Opera, presented their fully staged half-length version of The Magic Flute, I was surprisingly taken aback. Here I was in the intimate clutches of the historic Athenaeum Theatre, gobsmacked by the journey in time it swept me into. The choice of venue and the brooding, carnival-like period atmosphere tricked me into imagining I was plonked into Mozart’s midst as he himself conducted his last opera, a fairy-tale of sorts championing the forces of good over evil, reason over revenge and the just rewards of perseverance, at the Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden, a suburban Viennese theatre where the work premiered in 1791.

Belinda Prakhoff, Damien Noyce, Rada Tochalna and Karen Van Spall
Artistic director Linda Thompson achieved much with her creative team and effervescent group of predominantly young performers and guest professional artists, putting a smile of disbelief on my face as The Magic Flute entertained. Running just under 90 minutes without interval with swathes of recitative omitted, many arias reduced in length, emphasising the magical and fantastical minus the Masonic symbolism and its ceremonial choruses, the troupe performed and sang admirably and clearly to a delightful English libretto.

Even the musicians felt directed into the production. As patrons took their seats, the performance almost unknowingly got underway with a sense of invitation and informality as the seven musicians of the Magic Chamber Orchestra played a charming orchestral piece on the stage, appropriately a light and airy take on the opera's glorious overture. When they were done they positioned themselves in the pit and remained there for the performance, making Mozart's music emanate warmly under conductor Warwick Stengards' stewardship. Tempi wobbled from time to time with attempts to reign in vocal activity on the stage but clean, skilled playing was evident, especially from the honey-toned flute of Derek Jones and Pamela Christie's stealth at the piano.

In its plump simplicity, set design (simply attributed to Gertrude Opera), incorporated symmetry, height, side-stage steps and a central, hinged platform supporting four "tree" posts slung with fairy lights which illuminated when help seemed at hand or at moments of celebration. Jason Bovaird's delicious lighting design, though executed with occasional opening night mishap, cast a vivid palette of colour on the performance, drenching Amelia Carroll's costumes of period-inspired quirkiness, Gothic-darkness and showbiz glitter. The entire concoction presented Mozart's singspiel in a most pantomime-like manner.

The young, well-rehearsed cast, at times overcoming some stiffness in delivery, engaged with positive energy, keeping the momentum alive and earning the experience to forge stage-building dreams.

Juan Enrique Guzman and Alexandra Ioan
Juan Enrique Guzman displayed praiseworthy stamina as his expansive, warm-voiced Tamino undertook his quest with seriousness as he "played" the magic flute with impressive believability. Alexandra Ioan, pure and rich-toned as Tamino’s promised wife Pamina, gilded the stage with strong emotive phrasing. As the evil Queen of the Night, Joelene Griffith channelled her vocal strength, as if through a pipette, to slither the air with cold rage. Playing the knock-about, happy-go-lucky bird catcher Papageno, Eugene Raggio, with an at-ease comfort, was happily awarded his prize-catch lovebird, Papagena, cheerily and squeakily brought to life by Alissa Andraski. The pair’s final duet especially tickled the funny bone as they dreamed of a life together with many "Papageni" while unfolding a concertina-cut-out of kids.

Projecting with a solid appealing voice, Damien Noyce menaced with risk-taking, hyperactive acrobatics as a harlequin-like and low-life Monostatos. Guest professional artist David Gould added thunderous vocal bass and wisdom as he starred from an offstage balconette, commanding in the role of Sarastro, preacher of the way to enlightenment.

Eugene Raggio and Alissa Andraski
Rada Tochalna, Karen Van Spall and Belinda Prakhoff swooned and paraded as the three Ladies to the Queen of the Night and invigorating the evening with multiple synchronised scooter appearances the three Spirits, Tamzyn Alexander, Alexandra Lidgerwood and Rhiannon Stevens, amused as a trio of scraggy blonde-wigged golden girls, clearly having fun while singing with heavenly-voiced lightness.

Presented here was a refreshingly entertaining kind of opera that reflects the energy and aspirations of our young crusaders on an operatic platform at a grassroots level in a production that impressively packages Mozart’s work for a place and time to suit many an occasion.

Production photographs courtesy of Gertrude Opera

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sondheim's Passion rewards and frazzles

Life Like Company
Playhouse Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne
5th November 2014

Given the fact that a string of Stephen Sondheim’s musicals have hit Melbourne’s stages of late, theatre-goers are getting to know that nothing is ever quite what it seems in a Sondheim world. With a penchant for topsy-turvy storytelling and persistently prodding his audience with many an uncomfortable truth, a Sondheim musical rarely feels like a light affair. Passion dangles disconcertingly at this extreme, presented here in Life Like Company’s fine inaugural production.
Kane Alexander and Theresa Borg

A safe but deft hand in direction by Neil Gooding, musical director Guy Simpson's sensitive interpretation of the score and energetic embrace of the 15 musicians, together with a well-seasoned cast, all combine in a production that both rewards and frazzles.

From Iginio Ugo Tarchetti's 19th Century novel Fosca, to the 1981 Italian film Passione d'armore, the story of a bewilderingly obsessive love of a sick woman for a remotely posted army captain, who in turn is in love with and having an affair with a married woman in Milan, was adapted for the stage with Sondheim's signature biting lyrics (from James Lapine’s book) and melodious though oddly restrained music.

Passion’s stage drama contains forces aplenty that lap the audience unrelentingly.  Shifting scenes regimentally choreographed, intertwined vocal lines originating from different premises of time and place, storytelling within storytelling, repetition of vocal lines and a fluid music intercepted by military reminders of the snare drum and trumpet, march the story along with rhythmic ease.

The multi-tasking creative designer, Rob Sowinski, keeps the lighting subdued but varied while scant furnishings define space and costumes define the period on a raw black-curtained working stage. It's neither elaborate nor overly ambitious but it does work to sharpen the focus on the characters from whom Gooding extracts every ounce he can. The cast of 12, a broad mix of musical theatre talent, is balanced and strong.

Fosca, as fragile as she is, is the story's vortex, and because of whom outcomes spiral. Theresa Borg's Fosca is harrowing as she summons power and gravitas in her voice from a mind and body sucked of life. Stiff in action and gaunt in expression, Borg's disturbing melodies, depth of voice and unswerving performance of an obsessed love press down with a frightening emotional burden.

The man of her obsession, Captain Giorgio Bachetti, is handsomely portrayed by Kane Alexander. After an uneasy, under bedcover and unclothed start, Alexander developed charismatically with a warm and resonant voice, his sensitive obliging nature seemingly at odds with military isolation. You wait for that cordial spirit to break and it finally does in a burst of harsh and confronting words as Fosca follows him on his train to Milan. It is at this point that you come to see and feel Alexander’s full range.

Borg and Alexander build up Fosca and Giorgio's complex chemistry in an aching, frustrating display. The less we understand something, the more disturbing we find it. Love is not what it seems and viewing their relationship makes challenging and effecting theatre.

Polar opposite to Fosca's pitiable, deep melancholy, Silvie Paladino as Giorgio's lover Clara, glides with lithely beauty and stretches the voice high and bright with measured control. It is easy to imagine Paladino as the consummate entertainer but despite a polished performance, the role seems to demand a greater sense of lusty vigour. 

Silvie Paladino and Kane Alexander
The trio is complimented by fine performances from Mark Dickenson as Fosca's cousin and protector, Colonel Ricci, whose robust voice can fire like a cannon, and John O'May as the officious Doctor Tambourri, your somewhat dubious master-of-ceremonies-like-glue guiding proceedings in hardly a singer's role but endearing nonetheless.

Completing the cast is a uniformed regiment of colourful characters whose chorus work coolly take the drama off the boil. Sadly, their choreographed drills stumble, dragging down "military madness" with twee, juvenile marching.

It seems impossible to walk away from this staging of Passion without being completely drained by the drama. That can hardly be poor theatre. It may just require some distance in time from reaching Sondheim saturation. 

Production photographs by Ben Fon

Friday, October 17, 2014

Opera Hong Kong's eerily contemporary Salome

Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Friday 10th October 2014

Warren Mok, Artistic Director of Opera Hong Kong and producer of Richard Strauss’ Salome, has once again succeeded in staging opera with a discerning eye to an increasingly enthusiastic and opera-informed local audience. In a co-production with the Slovenian National Theatre Opera and Ballet, director Andrejs Zagars paints Salome as a modern, crazed and tragic figure in a cool, barren world that epitomises her disconnection from human warmth. Visually distant from its biblical origins this Salome feels eerily contemporary.

Kirsten Chambers as Salome and Daniel Sumegi as Jocahanaan

Set designer Reinis Suhanovs' stage depicted a minimalistic prismatic room, its rear wall featuring a large rectangular opening (set back to allow stage entry) with a view towards a shifting night sky and a full moon. The spatial grandeur yet soulless quality to the space perfectly characterised Salome herself. As the momentum built, so too did the complexity of the visual drama, the hard walls enhanced by Kevin Wyn-Jones' lighting design and Ineta Sipunova's video projections which combined to create a world of sumptuous ever-changing geometric-floral patterns evoking a softened Middle-Eastern feel. The only disappointment was the flat, direct access from forward stage right to the cell from which Jochanaan was thrusted undramatically. It's a small quibble.

The openness of the set on the Grand Theatre's expansive stage provided ample opportunity for movement and Zagars provided dramatic flair with skilful blocking for the central characters but some clumsy moments on peripheral action slipped into the mix, namely at the scene of Narraboth's suicide where the guards reacted with an odd unknowing what to do, for far too long. 

The German libretto by Strauss is based on Hedwig Lachmann’s translation of Oscar Wilde's play, written in French, telling a story incorporating the murderous and erotic within a biblical context. In Zagars’ interpretation there's an initial feeling of awkwardness in trying to reconcile the biblical characters and narrative with the modern, presumably Middle-Eastern transposition, but before long names felt unimportant and it less and less resembled biblical story telling. That said, it did present its problems. While not trying to present a history lesson, it does raise the issue of the relevance of a updating a story to a libretto that clearly is mismatched to the period. 

Salome shocked audiences at the opera's 1905 Dresden premiere and was initially ignored and banned by many opera houses, and although the opera has settled into the repertoire, it is often still the subject of seismic shifts. In a 2002 Canadian Opera Company production, Salome was raped by the five Jews in an updated production (which of course incensed some) and she has also been raped by the soldiers in others. This production does not shock aimlessly. Salome's famous “Dance of the Seven Veils” (it wasn't clear, however, what the seven veils referred to) was danced dutifully erotically to give the feeling Salome was pre-punishing Herod via her mocking flirtatiousness. With the exception of a token blink-and-you'll-miss-it revealing of a single breast, just as Salome leaves the stage, nudity was passed up. Herodes followed Salome off-stage then adjusted his zipper on his return, suggesting he got what he'd wanted, presumably allowing Salome to get what she wanted too.

Peter Bronders as Herodes and Kirsten Chambers as Salome
Similarly, when  Salome danced about with Jochanaan's head, we simply saw what could have been a melon covered in a clump of bedraggled hair. But the shock was delivered when (not so much by the kiss) the plainly mad Salome placed the head between her knees as she writhed on the floor. It was certainly enough for me to understand (not endorse) Herodes' reaction when he ordered his guards to kill his step-daughter and perhaps find some peace in his superstitious thoughts.

Kristine Pasternaka's costume designs gave clarity and punchy character to her cast. On a stage protected by black-uniformed guards, Salome made her entrance in a purely pink glittering pantsuit and thigh-length 'poodle' jacket, wearing the colour pink with power. Salome underwent two other changes, both in revealing black chiffon. Herodes was portrayed in a dinner suit and satin gown. Herodias towered over and dominated her husband on bold heels and two changes of costumes of quirkily grotesque elegance and Jochanaan made his appearance in a straight-jacket, later in prison attire, to reveal the man he was forced to become.

The principal soloists indeed added ample life to their costumes to deliver convincingly powerful performances. Kirsten Chambers seemed to give everything she lived for to Salome. Her debut in the role was praiseworthy. In this hugely demanding role Chambers never appeared to tire. On the contrary, the depth of her performance grew wildly as she exhibited the fitness of an athlete. In her voice’s lowest range, however, her struggle to shape volume and beauty was apparent but the dramatic colour exhibited throughout her middle range and the defined delicacy of her high notes easily won the audience over to Chambers' Goliath effort.

Entering in sunglasses and seemingly forever holding a wineglass, Jacqueline Dark as Herodias wasn't going to spill a drop and she mimicked much the same agility in her fiercely solid vocal confidence and dramatic portrayal of the ruthless and manipulative woman behind her lecherous husband, Herodes. Peter Bronders’ Herodes was also both pitiful and pathetic. With a strangely endearing whining-like vocal quality and characterful performance, Bronders' added much to the drama, drawn from his wealth of experience in Wagnerian roles.

Jacqueline Dark as Herodias and Peter Bronders as Herodes
Daniel Sumegi pounded the stage with a performance that shook with thunderous impact. Much of Jochanaan's boisterous prophesizing happened from off-stage but sadly the sound distortion created by electronic intervention gave his voice an uneasy, thin, metallic sound. Sumegi's power to project and largesse of vocal expression would seem more than enough to have warranted a more natural rendering.

For the short period before his on-stage almost unnoticed suicide, Jason Wickson gave a merited performance as Narraboth. In the smaller roles I also especially liked the almost comedic-acted discourse and vocal harmony enacted by the five Jews, Alex Tam, Frankie Liu, Christopher Leung, Chen Yong and Apollo Wong.

Musically, conductor John Neschling let the breadth of Strauss' score shine with the brilliance it was notated as, the tempi always feeling conducive to the action. Perhaps the pit was responsible for swallowing some of the character in the music but Neschling may have, however, been able to do even more to extract larger volumes from the sizeable Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra when it was needed and to develop greater contouring of the sound.

The balance between administering shock and presenting powerful drama enticingly with an indefatigably talented cast has gifted audiences in Hong Kong with another operatic highlight. However, it also raises prickly issues and opens that can of worms when working with historical updates/original libretti. 

Photographs courtesy of Opera Hong Kong

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Link to Published Works

My journey to reviewing opera started in May this year when Opera Australia posted an article on their Twitter feed, "Do you have what it takes to be a critic?". Although I had never written a review, it seemed a prefect opportunity to start expressing myself in a way I haven't before and sharing my thoughts about and experiences with opera. After submitting two reviews (Don Carlos and Wozzeck, blogged here) I became the successful candidate for Opera Australia's Melbourne season and the start was immediate. In the 6 months since, I have published 20 reviews and 2 previews across 4 websites and several reviews have been written here in my blog. It's a most enjoyable and rewarding outcome doing something I least expected but related to a part of my life where passion exists. Here are the links to my work to date:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Palau Des Les Arts Reina Sofia
13th June 2014

Even before the performance was underway in the cavernous main hall of the Palau de Les Arts, a standing ovation greeted conductor, Zubin Mehta, who responded with a big, powerful and distinctive sound in opening Giacomo Puccini's last opera, Turandot. Then, when the curtain was raised to reveal the majestic force of Chinese director, Chen Kaige's shimmering blockbuster production, which first premiered in the same venue back in 2008, it was clear the performance ahead would be a treat to the senses.

The music of Puccini's three-act opera is not big enough to veil the lunacy of the plot and the lack of character development it suffers, but it is big enough to inspire stunning entertainment. Dare I say, Kaige's direct approach and cautionary filmmaker's eye combined to create a production that could just as easily park itself on Broadway. Liu King's intricate sets depicting an ancient Chinese imperial complex, designed and built in China, beautifully enhanced everything from solo performance to large ensemble. The visual splendour continued with a glistening stage floor, exquisitely coloured and embroidered costumes by Chen Tong Xun and lighting that illuminated the stage with dramatic precision by Albert Faura.

On the downside, a few rather cheesy moments made the proximity to Broadway that much closer. A languid Mexican wave (unless it originated in ancient China) and a parasol-armed chorus of loyal subjects converging into a clustered formation seemed to express an uncertainty of not knowing how to keep a large chorus occupied. Also, the drama was diminished by a tendency for the performers to face the audience rather more frequently than they did to each other. But this is a fairy-tale after all and Kaige's filmmaking expertise (Farewell My Concubine) presented it as such, more than I’ve seen before.

And what an odd tale Turandot is! Love at first sight is taken to the extreme when an unknown stranger falls for an icy princess who vowed never to marry unless a noble suitor can solve three riddles. Of course, the riddles are too difficult to solve but they don't prevent noble fools trying, even if failure leads to beheading. Then along comes an unknown stranger (if you're dressed like a nobleman, you must be one) and upsets the princess by solving all three of them. Now why would a man force himself on a woman who clearly isn't interested, worse, faces death by trying? Being a tale, it might be forgiven for its irreconcilable plot, so if it wasn't for Puccini's rich, dramatic and emotional score brimming with tender arias, fearsome duets and surging choral music, the story might very well fall flat in the theatre. In saying that, I imagine Carlo Gozzi's 1762 play, Turandot, on which Puccini based his opera, is unlikely ever to see a stage again.

Puccini's subject matter was surprising, given the success of his verismo operas; La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), La Fanciulla del West (1910), La Rondine (1917). And of course, he had already delved into the Far East with Madama Butterfly (1904). Puccini died in 1924 without completing the final act but had left detailed sketches, which were entrusted to Franco Alfonso and the opera premiered in 1926 at Milan's Teatro alla Scala.

Heading back to the performance, after an impressive lead, it was the subtlety of sound that Mehta needed to establish in a theatre which amplifies the sound miraculously but unforgivingly. Initially, a divide seemed to exist between stage and pit but by midway through Act I Mehta harnessed the two. Elevating Turnadot's music to a level rarely heard, it was as if Mehta was able to give each of the hard-working, focused musicians of the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana their chance to be heard in absolute glory.

Lise Lindstrom, rendered Princess Turandot with combined ruthlessness and grace, much to Kaige’s intentions, giving Turandot a great sense of approachability and humanity. Lindstrom's engaging soprano voice exhibited dramatic strength and colour, both sweetly edged and full of rich resonance in the lower range. In Turandot's extended Act II aria, "In questo reggia", and subsequent duet with Calaf (the unknown stranger), Lindstrom excelled, slicing the air with penetrating beauty and delivering a knife-edge chill before exposing Turandot's vulnerability after Calaf solves the three riddles.

Jorge de León expressed Calaf's determination to win Turandot's heart in fine, confident form. Already impressive in Act I, de Leon opened up in the second act to reveal a voice funnelling a warm viscosity and an emotion-filled, warbling, high, throaty tenor. De Leon was equally at ease in the duets he shared with Turandot and the slave-girl, Liu, as he was in his solos. The pressure of Act III's (everyone knows) "Nessun dorma" was beautifully delivered with clear, measured phrasing, expressing Calaf's contemplations with real pathos after which the hall erupted with a roar belonging in a football stadium.

Portraying Liu, young soprano, Jessica Nuccio catapulted herself into the role firmly before her Act I aria, "Signor ascolta" was over, at much the same time Mehta did in settling the orchestra. Nuccio's clean phrasing and delicate tone impressed, and a quivering vibrato preceding her public suicide in "Tu che di gel sei cinta" was heartfelt and masterly.

Timur, the deposed King of Tartary, and Calaf's long lost father, was convincingly carried off by Alexánder Tsymbalyuk in a broad pleasing, almost feathery bass voice. Lighter entertainment was provided by the trio of palace ministers, Ping, Pang and Pong, each respectively performed by Germán Olvera, Valentino Buzza and Pablo Garcia López. In their lengthy and demanding Act II scene, mocking the endless imperial rituals and longing for their homes in the idyllic countryside, the trio effortlessly sang and danced their reflections in expert showbiz style.

Each of Turnadot's three acts end in much the same way, utilising huge boisterous brass and percussive strength to energise a large chorus, easily maximising the spectacle. Here, the Cor de la Generalitat Valencia reached explosive proportion and maintained clarity while being equally mesmerising during the score's soft musical hues.

The opera's final scene ends hastily as Turandot's icy cloak melts and she names Calaf, "Love". For me it doesn't quite work and I wonder if it would've for Puccini if he had completed or revised the score himself. It especially looked at odds as Turandot and Calaf strangely rushed off the stage in, presumably, blissful escape, but it looked more like an eagerness to get off the stage and out of their costumes. It also didn't seem to dignify the splendid chorus in their most magnificent moment singing in thunderous force, "O sole! Vita! Eternita".

I thought about the many operas (some I'm not even aware of) that have fallen out of fashion and vice versa over the last few centuries. Will Turandot's appeal fade? Will it disappear from the repertoire of popular operas it currently sits amongst? Or will its muscular music keep alive a far-fetched tale? In all the productions of Turandot I've seen, there has never been an attempt to redeploy the story outside its ancient Chinese setting and now, after seeing an impressively glittering staging, I wonder if it can be engineered with a radically new approach.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich
Saturday 7th June 2014

The current Bayerische Staatsoper production of Rossini's 1816 opera buffa, Il Barbiere di Siviglia was first premiered way back in 1989. It raises a dilemma. The opera's popularity alone might draw existing and new audiences but bring in a star performer the likes of tenor, Juan Diego Flórez and it virtually guarantees a full house. From director, Ferruccio Soleri, there’s a real sense of complacency, however, and despite being plump full of expert vocal and dramatic performances it's surprising this lacklustre Il Barbiere di Siviglia has survived more than two decades.

Carlo Tommasi’s sets create a sense of 18th Century Southern Spanish realism but they’re clunky and lack thought. While may needing to seem impenetrable to protect Rosina, his ward, the Act I set for the exterior of Doctor Bartolo’s house is obtrusive and limits the scene’s action. Act II’s interior set of the house is vacant, with confused access points ill-suited to streamlined story telling and feels more like the hollowness of an empty old timber hall. Ute Frühling's period costumes, which creatively define each of the soloists and warm lighting, provide at least some salvation. But most annoyingly, is the creaking, thumping sound of the timber floors of the revolving stage when the cast make the slightest move. What's worse, there seems a point in emphasising it. How could this have escaped the director’s, or for that matter, anyone’s ears?

Conductor, Antonello Allemandi, led Rossini's overture in a blend of delightfully warm exchanges between the different sections of the orchestra, then maintained tight control to exact freshness and brightness. A tendency, however, to drag the tempo too far down than usual on the slower, more tender scenes, slightly hindered a balanced cohesiveness between poignancy and comedy.

Figaro, the wheeling-dealing scheming barber, ever ready to help carry the plot forward (for a price) is rendered with swaggering, cheerful confidence by Rodion Pogossov. Of course, everyone eagerly awaits Figaro's entrance aria, "Largo al factotum", and Pogossov obliged with vigour, adding his own colourful, baritone signature with a warm, rolling legato. Not so impressive, however, is Figaro's all-important prop, in the form of a disappointing, meagre offering of barber's paraphernalia in a leather wallet.

Kate Lindsey, as Rosina, ward of Doctor Bartolo and, just like everyone else, able to outsmart him, displays immediate self-assuredness in Rosina’s opening aria, “Una voce poco fà”, continuing with vitality and stunning vocal beauty. Ricocheting from one zany episode to the next, Lindsay also concocts an effusive chemistry with her surrounding cast.

The fast-paced pitter-patter of Doctor Bartolo, played by Renato Girolami couldn't be better enjoyed. Together with his accomplice Don Basilio, depicted solidly by Peter Rose, and Bartolo’s sneezing maid, Berta, rendered in squeaky delight by Hanna-Elizabeth Müller, the requisite spice is added to deliver a rollicking show of animated entertainment and adept vocal force.

But it was Juan Diego Flórez who everyone came to see, portraying Count Almaviva, as well as the disguises of a soldier and a music teacher, two of Figaro’s bright ideas to help get the Count into Doctor Bartolo’s house to see Rosina. Flórez starts with an easy, careful pace, notches it up, then in astounding form delivers the almost ten-minute Act II aria not often performed, "Cessa di più resistere", to wild, extended applause. I saw Flórez sing the role in Los Angeles in 2009 and Milan in 2010. As in the previous two, his performance was arresting, holding the troops at bay, but this time suddenly letting all the production's faults disappear for this interlude as the entire cast and chorus stood completely still so as not to upset the groaning stage. Finally, everyone on stage seemed to get it. And together with a steadfast, fine-voiced chorus of soldiers and musicians, the winning cast of characters give some polish to the night.

In the end it all goes horribly wrong (as it has for this production) for old Doctor Bartolo, who arrives just a moment too late to marry his ward, Rosina, instead finding her married to the Count. So, apart from the synergetic charm exuded by the cast and the enduring, catchy tunes courtesy of Rossini, it’s time to dismantle the pieces of this tiresome, dusty construct and find new form.