Il barbiere di Siviglia at the English National Opera

October 2017

In the pit, Hilary Griffiths offered a sprightly yet rich-toned account of the score; fine woodwind and horn solos were allowed to take their time, and ensembles crackled like wildfire. With smaller roles all taken well, this was a vintage night at ENO.

OPERA, November 2017

It is easy to see why. For a start, English National Opera has made the inspired move of hiring Hilary Griffiths to conduct. He is one of those brilliant Brits who've made their career in Europe (usually of necessity since domestic companies tend to favour artists whose surnames end in -i or -o) and he shapes Rossini's beloved score as though the ink were still wet on the manuscript. With tempo choices, pit-stage balance and dramatic momentum close to ideal, Griffiths and the ENO Orchestra don't just sing, they zing.

Mark Valencia, What's on Stage

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The other reason this revival is so successful is the wonderful addition of British conductor Hilary Griffiths, who makes his belated and very welcome ENO debut. Griffiths clearly relishes every moment of the performance and infects the orchestra with his fizzing energy. There are a few moments when his enthusiasm for volume drowns out cast members, but overall he brings out the very best in both the orchestra and the performers.

Aliya Al-Hassan, Broadway World

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This was conductor Hilary Griffiths’ first stint at ENO and on the strength of the excellent sound he drew from the pit, a return invitation needs to be issued. With the exception of a couple of moments of lethargy in the overture, the ENO orchestra gleamed, particularly in the woodwind section where the quality was consistently high. This is one of those rare productions firing on all cylinders; a delight to attend.

Dominic Lowe, Bachtrack

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Although the orchestra is reduced in size, the approach of conductor Hilary Griffiths is essentially old-world lyrical, never forcing the pace or drowning the cast. His is an overdue ENO debut.

David Gutman, The Stage

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Hilary Griffiths’ debut conducting the orchestra of the ENO was delightful, tight and bouncy in just the right fizzing way which underpinned the frothy nonsense of the plot, he conducted with vigour and zeal which outshone the passion on the stage. The energy brought from the pit last night was fresh and invigorating and Griffiths wowed us with the orchestra in full swell.

Eric Page, GScene

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In the pit Hilary Griffiths, on his ENO debut, delivers a lithe account of Rossini’s score. There is a certain delicacy in his approach, which allows individual orchestral lines to be delineated well, but also a bubbly charm that recognises the humour to be found both within the piece as a whole and the music itself. This is a very strong revival of an ENO classic.

Sam Smith, Opera Online

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Presiding in the pit, Hilary Griffiths extracts an occasionally coarse-grained but always vivid performance from orchestra and chorus.

Michael Church, The Independent

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Hilary Griffiths’s conducting of the score is also best appreciated in that light – it does not sparkle so as much as smoulder and radiate steady good humour, but there is evident enjoyment and enthusiasm on the part of the orchestra. It is slower-paced than one might ordinarily expect, but complements the production in also encompassing a different rhythm of vitality and insight.

Curtis Rogers, Classical Source

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The ENO Orchestra clearly has taken a liking to Hilary Griffiths – certainly if the well-shaped Overture was anything to go by. This was Griffiths’ ENO debut – he is most associated with opera houses of Prague and Cologne – and his clear sense of theatre ran through the evening. He also seems to think on the long-term: the music had direction. Perhaps an extra addition of fizz now and again would have allowed us to really live in the moment, but this was fine conducting indeed. After 30 years, one wonders how much time is left for this production? There were spare seats, and more post-interval. One fervently hopes, though, that Hilary Griffiths will be asked back and that we will see more of David Ireland.

Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International

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But conductor Hilary Griffiths polished off the beloved overture at a lick... Two years ago, my colleague Franco wasn’t so keen. This time, thoroughly recommended.

Johnny Fox

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Holding together cast and orchestra, conductor Hilary Griffiths in his ENO debut gave Rossini’s music a full-blooded performance.

Mark Ronan

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It was also well conducted by the British Conductor, Hilary Griffiths, who is also the Chief Conductor of the Prague State Opera. His was a careful reading of the score, but giving us a pacey interpretation of the music, which was well in tune with the artists.

David Buchler, Opera Spy

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