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Fun and well sung but let down by a disastrous Act 4
Le Nozze Di Figaro is one of my favourites, so I wouldn't miss any production of it for the world. This production from Netherlands Opera is nowhere among the best of the DVD competition, which is a solid one, personally it's one of the weakest, but there is still a lot to enjoy.
The production updates the action to a car dealership setting, this does sound like a recipe for disaster but surprisingly it's not. It's hardly a cheap-looking production at all and the space and setting is made good use of and not wasted in any way. The staging is mostly a lot of fun, with the humour being broad and witty without being vulgar or slapsticky, with a lot of truly hilarious moments(Act 2's a riot as it ought to be). The interplay between the singers really sparkles especially between Figaro and Susanna. It's not completely perfect, the humour of the opera is rather of its time and in updated productions of any of Mozart's operas there is the danger of it not translating well in the modern setting. Here there are times where it does work but also others where it jars. But the biggest flaw with the production is the staging of Act 4 which is a mess, the action is all projected on a black and white 4 screen video screen and it is completely unnecessary, out of focus, clumsy and confused. There is a lot going on in the act and this is the first time where it was difficult to follow, just as disappointing was that one of the most beautiful and most poignant moments of any of Mozart's work and in opera(when the Countess forgives her husband) is devoid of emotion.
Musically there is actually very little to complain about. There is plenty of liveliness and style in the orchestral playing(the orchestra also play sublimely through with the strings and woodwinds very well balanced), with the arias being expansive and the recitatives not plodding. Ingo Metzmacher's conducting is sympathetic while also energetic, ideal for Mozart. Great performances too, with the best coming from Luca Pisaroni as a hearty and resonantly and characterfully voiced Figaro and Danielle De Niese's sparkling and truly beautifully sung Susanna. Their chemistry in Act 1 is just a joy. There could have been more of the Count's conflicted personality but Gary Magee gets the arrogance, humour and menace just right and isn't too much of a blusterer either. Cecilia Costea sings with genuine warmth and beauty of tone and her Countess is dignified and moving. The secondary roles are well filled, with a sly Basilio in Mercel Reijans, a robust Bartolo in Mario Luperi and a scheming Marcellina in Charlotte Margione. The only disappointment is Maite Beaumont as Cherubino, her singing is wonderful and she's charming and youthful but more impetuousness and conflict in love(the whole point of Non So Piu) was needed and she in no way would pass convincingly as a man or a boy.
In conclusion, fun and very well sung and performed but it is such a shame that Act 4 was such a disastrous mess. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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