Let me come clean, right off the bat: this is the best opera production I’ve yet seen. Down in the pit, with the fabulous Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, is Antony Walker, who ensures Gioachino Rossini’s infectious score is produced with the utmost precision. Then we have Elijah Moshinsky’s wonderful (yes, the superlatives will keep on coming) production, revived by down-to-earth director, Cathy Dadd. If the free talk beforehand is any indication, she’s an exceptionally mature and generous commander, allowing her stunning (yep, there’s another one) cast ample room to move, to find a comic nuance here, a subtle twist there. I think that’s what makes this Barber Of Seville really sparkle.

Then, there’s Michael Yeargan’s witty and whimsical set, which says to hell with scale and takes a cartoon approach. So we see a smaller-than-life streetscape, populated by puppets. It all seems so in keeping with the ebullient-looking Rossini.

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Dona Granata’s costumes capture the cocaine-fuelled, laissez-faire, dapper, debonair and vaguely wild flapperdom of the roaring twenties, to which era the barber has been time-shifted. Howard Harrison’s lighting design transports us magically from night to dawn.

And how ’bout that cast? I can’t recall a better lineup, theatrically or vocally, on any opera or other stage. It’s a hugely complementary ensemble. Christopher Hillier shows himself to be a comic prodigy as Ambrogio, the sunken-eyed, chain-smoking, shuffling manservant of Bartolo. Think One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest meets new romantic. Or a depressed Doc, from Back To The Future. Very Tim Burton. And that’s not his only turn. Surely we all knew he was one of our finest young baritones, but who knew he was such a consummate actor? Move over Jim Carrey or, more to the point, Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice).

Henry Choo is in fine fettle as a somewhat credulous Count Almaviva; played as something of an upper-class twit. Puts me in mind of certain members of the royals. Or all of ’em. Then again, love can make anyone soft in the head. But none of this cluelessness gets in the way of Choo’s beautiful tone, or his ability to make notes his servants, rather than masters.

Giorgio Caoduro is Figaro, the barber; smart in every conceivable way. His voice is every bit as virile, strong and handsome as he; his very charismatic presence very much felt. Every moment of his performance is sheer pleasure.

Dominica Matthews’ Rosina, ward of the good, if flaccid, doctor, is scintillating. Her crystal-clear mezzo is right to the fore and she finds comedy even while showing off an impossibly elongated note. Her Charleston isn’t half bad either.

Warwick Fyfe manages to look and sound twice his age as the boofhead Bartolo. Even in his egoistic excess, one can’t help but harbour a certain amount of affection and sympathy for the poor old chump. He’s the essence of buffo.

Teresa La Rocca is the gin-swilling Berta and, as such, is the comic counterpart of Hillier. Another treat.

Jud Arthur, as Basilio, sounds like gently-oaked cabernet: all dark cherries, cedar and tobacco; scarlet and purple. What better vocal characteristics for someone from the priestly class?

Finally, David Parkin, the inaugural Operatunity winner, exemplifies the wisdom of that judging panel as the officer of the watch. And I’ve never heard the OA male chorus sounding better either.

And can you find a funnier, more likeable or, for that matter, more musical opera than The Barber? It’s the perfect vehicle for showoffs. And, when they’re this talented, who doesn’t like a showoff? Glorious!

Curtain Call rating: A+

The details: The Barber of Seville has nine more performances at the Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Tickets on the OA website.