Another night at the opera with James Waites… it’s a slow education. Three hours every so often, we venture into the right hand sails of the Sydney Opera House for the next lesson. Though I was once a musician in my early years, my Opera experience was limited to the occasional CD slid into my father’s CD player. My parents met at high school (in Coffs Harbour) performing in an operetta of Hansel and Gretel playing the mother and father, whilst their friend (now significant, trail-blazing Aussie folk singer Judy Small) played the witch. However – Opera is new to me (only about 3 years old) and so I consider myself a curious student. The likelihood of me directing or even reading an Opera is very minimal and so I attend as a punter, ready for the story and spectacle.

The Barber of Seville, or The Useless Precaution (Il barbiere di Siviglia, ossia L’inutile precauzione) is a comic opera in two acts – and the total experience is about 2hours, 45 minutes – which for a contemporary theatre goer is a big investment – but not as big as some operas (Mannon seemed ALOT longer from memory). This production – a remount of a production directed by Elijah Moshinsky in the mid-90s – is a fun and grand spectacle and centres around Love in all it’s fun and misadventure. Impressive sets, highly theatrical devices, likable characters (and even those you love to hate!), there’s everything one needs for an entertaining night out – bright chuckles and enthusiastic applause.

Most impressively the performances are strong in their cartoonish/vaudeville style and the design by (Michael Yeargan- Set and Dona Granata- Costume) is spectacular – a two storey house, puppets, rolling scenery, lush costumes, hats, moustaches, wigs -a complete design not only indicative of 1920s fashion, but turn of the century theatrical devices. Beautiful.

Some Operas are designed to move, some to devastate – this one is pure spectacle and entertainment. And comforting to know that after nearly 200 years, this Opera endures (beyond it’s popularization by Bugs Bunny).