This version of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro was sublime from start to finish. Though if I had one minor complaint, asides from the lip synching, it was that there was once or twice, particularly in Non Piu Andrai, when the camera-work was a little dizzying. But compared to how well performed and designed the production was, that is a minor criticism.
The photography, apart from being a little dizzying, was lovely pretty much everywhere else. There is one bit I think in act 1, when Susanna looks as though she is about to faint, and the camera takes close up of Basilio and the Count's faces, as if they were leering over her, and that was a very effective touch. It perfectly captured the beautifully designed if not particularly fancy(unlike Magic Flute) costumes and sets, the garden in Act 4 was an especially nice touch.
The story is a great complex one, seen as a continuation of what happens in Barber of Seville. I don't really need to say how good Mozart's music is, it is obvious Marriage of Figaro is an operatic masterpiece, with highlights such as Voi Che Sapete, Porgi D'Amor, the Count's recitative and aria in Act 3, Non Piu Andrai, The Letter duet and the terrific finale.(even if the whole of Act 4 has literally nothing as entertaining compared to the other three happening)
The performances were exceptional, Hermann Prey was hugely entertaining as Figaro, bring a sense of vibrancy and hilarity into his performance as well as having a hearty voice that is also beautiful in tone. Mirella Freni was just stunning as Susanna- I completely forgave the fact she was in her early forties when she did this. She just has this alluring presence and beautiful big voice, that pours out like whipped cream on a coffee. Who could think a fantastic soprano, who excels especially in Puccini and Verdi, could also be such a gem in Mozart too? Kiri Te Kanawa was lovely and elegant as the Countess, she did have a tendency to sing sharp, but singing sharp is preferable to singing flat, and she sounded like she was in good voice. Maria Ewing was a great choice for Cherubino, not only did she look the part, but she sang like a nightingale and is a good actress. And the best way to describe Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau(whose name I still can't pronounce) is outstanding, with his tremendous acting ability and enormously resonant voice, he was perfect as the count, simply born to play him. His scenes with Freni were especially brilliant, you could really feel the chemistry between the two then. Everyone else was fine too.
Overall, sublime, there is one minor flaw(one or two moments of dizzying camera-work), other than that, well recommended, if you like opera, or love Freni or Fischer-Dieskau. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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