Le nozze di Figaro - Royal Opera House, 31 May 2010 (first night)
Just some hit and run impressions from the first night before I embark on a solid week of opera. This latest revival of David McVicar’s 2006 production doesn’t always deliver the goods vocally, but the casting couldn’t be bettered theatrically. Back in person to direct (he left the last revival to someone else), McVicar has tweaked and tightened the dramatic screws. The master-servant relationship is more effectively defined than ever before, and the shenanigans of the final act much easier to follow.
Erwin Schrott's minutely-observed Figaro is the engine of the drama and the manifestation of the collapse of the old order. In the first half he preens and swaggers in front of the servants, visibly straightening into professional hauteur the minute his employers appear. By the last act his outrage at the Count's presumed liberties has torn away the mask of deference - he and the Count are equals. Schrott totally masters the vocal demands of the role, tempering his natural expressivity with an elegance and discipline that hasn't always been there in the past. And even in dismally authentic nineteenth century breeches that make him look as if he's wearing an adult nappy, he is hotness personified.
Erwin, you may not like blogs but we <3 u.
Mariusz Kwiecien does as well as he can with the Count - animal lust more to the fore than aristocratic dignity - and he sings well, but I find his voice a little light for the part. Eri Nakamura's blandly submissive Susanna grew on me, but her voice often takes on an unpleasantly raw character, and she never seemed quite inside the role. Annette Dasch is the most beautiful and glamorous Countess I've ever seen, but I can't say the same for her spread tone, muffled diction or desperately flat top notes.
On this showing, Jurgita Adamonyte's voice is simply not large enough for Covent Garden, which is a shame as her Cherubino was genuinely charming, managing without the mugging that so often accompanies the part. Perhaps she was ill - I seem to remember she was more impressive in The Gambler.
The chorus seemed to be having an off night, but the smaller parts were well taken. Robert Lloyd's Bartolo and Marie McLaughlin's Marcellina were an engaging pair, and Amanda Forsythe's comely, assured Barbarina almost stole the show. McVicar's panto-dame Basilio jars with the natural style of the rest of the cast, but Peter Hoare made the foppery bearable.
Though pit and stage often took separate paths, Sir Colin Davis coaxed some wonderfully warm and exquisitely phrased playing from the orchestra.
look who got a box all to herself: