Il Signor Bruschino

Il Signor Bruschino
By Rossini. Lyric Opera of Melbourne. Chapel off Chapel. Director: Lara Kerestes. Conductor: Pat Miller. June 6 – 12, 2016

Lyric Opera continues to astound. Performed in the round, this rarely heard Rossini one-acter was quite a romp, with strong performances from the talented cast. But it was the innovative direction which sold me.

Before the opera started Raphael Wong, as the Inn keeper, wandered around with a tray of coffee cups, offering drinks to the patrons. Then, during the overture, various characters came out to establish their credentials and set the scene. This was timed to the music and performed with confidence and precision.

This continued as the opera started. There were no stand and deliver moments. Everything was done with purpose and it made for most enjoyable theatre.

Matt Thomas was a strong father and head of an Italian fashion house, singing better than I’d heard him before. Lovely Rebecca Rashleigh was his daughter, looking gorgeous and singing superbly. Shanul Sharma, an impressive Werther in 2014, was the conniving suitor, his light voice ideally suited to this music.

The title role was played by Bruce Raggat, an experienced performer, who brought strength to this pivotal role. Raphael Wong sang beautifully as the Inn keeper.

Genevieve Dickson was a cheeky secretary. Though a minor character, she subtly added to the comedy. During the love duet she could be seen swinging the arm of the coat on a mannequin, imagining she was walking down the aisle. During a big ensemble she managed to tip a mannequin over, bent to pick it up and replaced the necklace on the last chord in the music.

As with all Rossini operas, there was lots of fiendish coloratura expected of all singers, and they delivered superbly. Though generally unable to see the conductor, there were no timing problems. The orchestra was very good and the colourful costumes enhanced the production.

The audience left with big smiles on their faces.

Graham Ford

Photographer: Kris Washusen.

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