Well-matched Figaro

3 Aug

Glyndebourne seems to have had some trouble selling this revival of Michael Grandage’s aimiable production of Le nozze di Figaro.  Maybe 17 performances is a couple too many and perhaps a cast that would be pretty much entirely unknown to most of the likely audience put people off.  In fact this, the last of the run on 2nd August, was a hugely enjoyable performance by the sort of cast that made you feel that you would probably hear quite a bit more of all of them.

So, Joshua Hopkins as the Count has rather a lovely, firm baritone that sounds just right for the Count (and Giovanni, Papageno, Guglielmo and Onegin) that you very much hope that he’ll be back soon.  He’s a nice actor and plays the arrogant stupidity of the man really well.  He’s matched by Amanda Majeski’s Countess – a gorgeous, creamy voice, absolutely right for the role, who sang one of the most gorgeous Dove sonos that I’ve heard in a long time.  She creates a lively, witty Countess but conveys also the depth of her disgust at her husband at the end of Act III.  Again, she would be welcome back at any time.

Adam Plachetka is well-know in Vienna and makes a very personable Figaro.  In keeping with the production, it’s a quiet, relatively thoughtful Figaro but also a patently decent man, if not as quick on the uptake as his beloved.  His darker baritone contrasted nicely with Hopkins.  Laura Tatalescu was an alert, witty Susanna who was obviously upset by the Countess’s forgiveness of her husband.  The only slight disappointment was a rather choppy Deh vieni.

What was important was that the voices sounded good together and that they interacted intelligently – the emotions were true and logical.

Lydia Teuscher, last year’s Susanna, sang Cherubino.  From where I was sitting, I wasn’t convinced of her boyishness but was completely won over by her singing.  Voi che sapete was sung with such beauty and depth of real feeling that it felt wrong to applaud it – I don’t think I’ve heard a better sung version of the aria since Teresa Berganza and I don’t think even Berganza got that level of sheer feeling out of it.

Anne Mason was a lovely, motherly Marcellina, Luciano di Pasquale a very funny Bartolo and Timothy Robinson even more sleazy as Basilio than his predecessor.  Alasdair Elliott was a really good Curzio and had opportunities to make the part into a real, rather toady-ish little man.

Jérémie Rhorer conducted.  He looks about fifteen, but conducted a lively, alert and brisk reading.  The LPO were on good form and this was one of those evening where pit and singers were part of a single whole.

Ian Rutherford was in charge of Grandage’s productions (one of the best jokes of which is to have a water feature in the last act which nobody falls into).  Details had changed to suit individual singers, mostly for the better.  Christopher Oram’s sets form a handsome, believable backdrop and, on the whole, Glyndebourne has the sort of production that is just right for a young cast to play around in.  It should stand the test of at least another couple of revivals and I hope it comes back.

The audience had a lovely time.  However, the timing of the surtitles needs watching.  Too often the audience was laughing at them rather than at what the singers were singing – to drown the opening of the Act III sextet as a result of that, strikes me as pretty much unforgivable.  But that’s really the only thing wrong with this very happy, satisfying revival.  As ever, I found myself smiling from the Susanna’s entrance from the closet, pretty much to the end and that’s as good a test of a good Figaro as I know.

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