Andrew Schroeder as the louche but loveable Figaro, and Colin Lee as the achingly keen Count Almaviva soon established a rapport that was complemented by the interplay of the other characters. Eric Roberts received a thoroughly deserved cheer from the audience for a Bartolo whose shrivelled self-importance and faux-authoritarianism provided the biggest laughs of the night, while Imelda Drumm positively sparkled as a sumptuous and wilful Rosina you assuredly wouldn't want to cross.
The only disappointment of the evening was the fact that it was difficult to hear the singers fully. I'd never seen The Barber of Seville before, and despite having been forewarned by a friend, who'd seen The Merry Widow the previous night, that the acoustic balance wasn't all that it might be, I was still frustrated to find that I had to strain to make out the words; rewarding, yes - when it worked - but tiring, and a situation which definitely detracted from the humour and energy otherwise evident throughout the production.
The plot is pretty standard fare in terms of eighteenth century farce, with young girls forced into marriages with nasty old men (who never seem to get a break, poor souls), behind-the-scenes manipulation by good-hearted rogues, and at least a minimum of mistaken identity. If it's hard to pick out the satirical legacy of the Beaumarchais original, which was banned in pre-revolutionary France for being too politically provocative, in entertainment value the opera is hardly the poorer for that. All good fun: smart, slick, boisterous and entertaining - if you happen to have slightly sharper hearing, or if you already know the plot and can fill in any gaps yourself, you should find this well worth the visit.