Sunday, 29 March 2015

A Spring (ON Figaro)

Mozart, Marriage of Figaro (Anthony Kraus, cond. Orchestra of Opera North)

We are over the threshold for Spring by over a week. Figaro got married last night; it was a lovely service, and a fine time was had by all. Mozart’s score carried us along –as if on a river I always think; and da Ponte’s libretto had all laughing out loud.
Photo: Opera North/Clive Barda
Opera North’s new production, the final and third taken to Nottingham this week, was an utter delight. A lovely production, a few eccentricities – such as the rain at the windows which gurgled during arias and whose meaning was opaque, and Figaro fiddling with a lightbulb at the start, notwithstanding, this was deeply funny and highly enjoyable. The orchestra sounded the best they have this week, under Anthony Kraus, and noticeably this was not their first performance with this conductor. It is tempting to conclude that more rehearsal time needs to be given to alternative conductors.
Richard Burkhard played Figaro as the charming chancer he is. Generally the male voices seemed stronger and finer than the female ones, especially Quirijn de Lang: not only can he sing, but he is a superb actor, and his performance was as memorable as on Tuesday.
Jeremy Sams has adjusted his translation for the performance, the programme notes tell us, and it worked well. This was genuinely funny- and not in the sort of forced/educative/demonstrative way you get with an RSC audience, laughing to show they get it. Mozart presents here the humour of humanity: as Figaro observed during a scene change: you get it… and you…any you. After my initial pangs – for some reason measuring for a bed is best done in Italian, I settled down very happily. The audience seemed close to sold-out. No wonder with music of this quality.
Alas, that's it from Opera North for now- just the Dutchman to come this summer.
Overall: a really funny production, gorgeous music – what more could anyone want? 

Figaro Richard Burkhard
Susanna Silvia Moi
Count Almaviva Quirijn de Lang
Countess Almaviva Ana Maria Labin
Cherubino Helen Sherman
Doctor Bartolo Henry Waddington
Don Basilio Joseph Shovelton
Marcellina Gaynor Keeble
Antonio Jeremy Peaker
Barbarina Ellie Laugharne
Don Curzio Nicholas Watts

Creative Team
 Conductor Anthony Kraus
Director Jo Davies
Set Designer Leslie Travers
Costume Designer Gabrielle Dalton
Lighting Designer James Farncombe
English translation Jeremy Sams

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