Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Fantastic Mr Figaro (Glyndebourne/Figaro)

Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro (Cohen. cond. OAE, Glyndebourne)
Glyndebourne is the perfect size of Mozart. The festival opened with Le nozze in 1934, and it has been a firm favourite ever since. When it is done as well as it was on Tuesday night, one fears one might simply drift away and be very happy about it too. As is so often the case on the most musically-outstanding evenings in Lewes, one finds the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the pit. Under the baton (or hands) of Jonathan Cohen. This is the first time I have heard Cohen in the flesh. I have his two splendid discs with Arcangelo and Iestyn Davies and Matthew Rose (coincidentally seen in the audience on Tuesday with Isserlis). Cohen’s score was pacy without being rushed, and certainly not at the break-neck speeds of Currentzis. 
Le nozze di Figaro, Glyndebourne Festival 2016. Figaro (Davide Luciano). Image: Robbie Jack/Glyndebourne.
Figaro (Davide Luciano) looked and sounded the part, but undoubtedly, the finest singing came from Golda Schultz as Countess, who made so many old men cry it bordered on the hysterical. Susan Bickley, fresh from Wagnerian duties made for a wonderful Marcellina.
Le nozze di Figaro, Glyndebourne Festival 2016. Countess Almaviva (Golda Schultz). Image: Robbie Jack/Glyndebourne.
The Grandage production complements all of this perfectly. It opens in time unknown in a Moorish palace, until you see the clothes and the little red sports car (a short film on it here). It is on stage for all of thirty seconds, but that red Austin Healey is such fun. Figaro arrives, and whatever strictures do or do not apply in the 1960s in terms of feudal relations and harassment, what more resonant evocation of the individual liberty offered by the motor car in mass ownership could be found than the car? 

This is the sort of Mozartian evening at Glyndebourne of which one dreams. I hear not all at the festival love this production, which is hard to believe as the audience clearly loved every second of it. I won't forget the disco-dancing in time to the Mozart anytime soon. One member of my party claimed to have communed more deeply with Mozart than ever before. You can’t really ask more than that, can you?

Overall: fantastico.

Cast and Creative team
Conductor Jonathan Cohen
Director Michael Grandage
Revival Director Ian Rutherford
Designer Christopher Oram
Lighting Designer Paule Constable
Figaro Davide Luciano
Susanna Rosa Feola
Count Almaviva Gyula Orendt
Countess Almaviva Golda Schultz
Cherubino Natalia Kawalek*
Bartolo Carlo Lepore
Marcellina Susan Bickley
Don Basilio John Graham-Hall
Antonio Nicholas Folwell
Don Curzio Alasdair Elliott
Barbarina Nikola Hillebrand

*Natalia Kawalek replaces Serena Malfi, who has had to withdraw for medical reasons

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