Small picture of Donizetti




Rossini's The Barber of Seville

Canadian Opera Company, Toronto, April 21 - May 22, 2015

Photographs by Michael Cooper and Chris Hutcheson, courtesy of the Canadian Opera Company


The Canadian Opera Company hired Els Comediants, a group of musicians, actors and artists based in Barcelona, who are particularly interested in creating productions that relive the ideas and feelings of communal festive occasions.  Here they turned to commedia dell'arte for inspiration.

While generally liking the "freewheeling, frequently cartoonish" approach, Richard Ouzounian's (, April 18, 2015) did not take to the "lurking mimes who look like they took not-early-enough retirement from one of Cirque du Soleil’s less successful companies" and was in "two schools of thought about Joan Guillén’s oddly constructivist set" while finding some of chorus costumes rather silly and the lighting too gloomy at the start. He was much more whole hearted about the musical side with the crisp playing of the orchestra under Rory Macdonald and singling out the singing and acting of Joshua Hopkins, Serena Malfi, Alex Shrader and Renato Girolami, with the Hopkins/ Schrader partnership being a particular highlight.

Andrew D'Cruz (The Globe and Mail, April 20, 2015) was fully in agreement on the musical merits and possibly more sympathetic to the production summing up "With its intercepted love letters, wafer-thin disguises and, yes, actors hanging from chandeliers, The Barber of Seville is full of zany buffa delights. If certain elements – some seemingly underdecorated sets; the ambiguous focus on money, right up until a final gimmick I won’t spoil – fail to fully cohere, that does little to dampen the fun."

Local enthusiast Mhairi Godley commented:


Best production of The Barber of Seville ever...

The Canadian Opera Company’s production of Rossini’s Barber of Seville is superb! Director Joan Font channels the Commedia dell’arte style brilliantly and hilariously, ably supported by fellow Spaniards Xevi Dorca (choreographer) and Joan Guillén (set and costumes).  All roles are outstanding, especially Robert Gleadow as Don Basilio who brings highly amusing life to a character I barely noticed in previous productions. Also worthy of platinum stars, Serena Malfi as Rosina and Aviva Fortunata as Berta.


The Team


Figaro  - Joshua Hopkins

Rosina - Serena Malfi /Cecelia Hall

Almaviva - Alek Shrader/Francisco Brito

Bartolo -  Renato Girolami/Nikolay Didenko

Basilio - Robert Gleadow /Burak Bilgili

Fiorello - Iain MacNeil

Berta - Aviva Fortunata

Officer - Clarence Frazer


Conductor -  Rory Macdonald

Production Team:   Els Comediants

Director -  Joan Font

Associate Director - Tanya Kane-Perry

Set and Costume Designer - Joan Guillén

Lighting Designer - Albert Faura

Choreographer – Xevi  Dorca


Chorus Master - Sandra Horst



© Michael Cooper

Almaviva serenading Rosina



© Michael Cooper

Almaviva paying off Figaro



© Michael Cooper

Bartolo and Basilio



© Michael Cooper

Scene with all the main cast



© Michael Cooper

Almaviva and Rosina



© Michael Cooper

Bartolo and Figaro



© Michael Cooper

Rosina, Almaviva and Figaro



© Chris Hutcheson

Bartolo, Almaviva, Rosina and Figaro




Page initially published in  2015