They do things differently in Spain: when a man stalks a woman he barely knows from one city to another and, with the aid of a local beardtrimmer-slash-fixer, infiltrates her home uninvited using various different disguises, one would at the very least expect this to result in a restraining order rather than the jaunty love story created by composer Gioachino Rossini and librettist Cesare Sterbini.

Jonathan Miller's classic English language treatment for the ENO has been knocking about since 1987 and, rather than appear long in the tooth, still appears as fresh as ever in a world where everyone has their own agenda and change is in the air. Charles Rice is the titular barber helping Innocent Masuku’s Count Almaviva win the heart of wealthy heiress Rosina (Anna Devin). Simon Bailey is phenomenal as Dr Bartolo who, as well as being Rosina’s guardian, has an eye on her inheritance and aims to marry her for himself with the aid of the villainous Don Basilio (Alistair Miles).

The marvellous costuming and the comedy - both verbal and physical - is the saving grace of Miller’s version; detailed outfits, the witty wordplay and the slapstick antics shine out in this opera allowing us to forgive the staid staging. Peter Relton’s zippy directing leaves on the edges of our seats during the more dynamic scenes. The English translation by the late Amanda Holden and Anthony Holden has many humorous high points but ultimately suffers from not being as free-flowing as Sterbini‘s original text - Figaro’s famous self-proclaiming aria is a staccato affair which loses the beauty of the Italian from which it came.

Masuku and Rice team up well, the former a convincingly ardent lover and the latter the mercenary ever with his eyes on the prize (to wit: money). Their interplay is a joy to watch and is trumped only by the comedy “baddies” Bartolo and Basilio; Miles in particular has an absolute ball in this ridiculously wide hat and has an ability to look more and more consternated as the defeats pile up. This Barber is still a cut above.

The Barber Of Seville continues at the London Coliseum until 29 February.