In David McVicar’s spellbinding production of Le nozze di Figaro the break-down of the relationship between Finley’s suave, dashingly self-absorbed Count and Röschmann’s passionately dignified Countess lies at the heart of the opera. The struggle to rekindle their love contrasts tragic-comically with the sexy ease between a feisty Figaro (Erwin Schrott) and a sassy Susanna (Miah Persson) is starkly absent, and the tenacious spark that remains between Marcellina (Graciela Araya) and Bartolo (Jonathan Veira). Antonio Pappano conducts (and accompanies the recitatives) with invigorating wit and emotional depth, allowing the ensemble toRead more capture the moments of dramatic tension to perfection and engaging fully with the rhythm of an already classic production, captured in High Definition video and surround sound.
R E V I E W S:
"Capturing one of my favourite opera productions of recent years, this new DVD of David McVicar's take on the first of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas is in some ways the ultimate Le nozze di Figaro... this performance seems to get to the heart of arguably Mozart's greatest opera more successfully than almost any other production of the composer's stage works I've seen in the last two or three years. As day turns to night and the characters leave the house to resolve their disputes in Tanya McCallin's verdant garden set, the performance takes on a warm glow; it's just so emotional, so involving, so poignant.
Shot in high definition and in surround sound, this is a luxury package and one that should be purchased and treasured by every opera lover."
-- Dominic McHugh, MusicalCriticism.com
There have been a couple of Figaros on DVD lately where the plot is distorted and the setting more or less absurd. After all this it is a relief to see that David McVicar presents a ‘normal’ version with elegant staterooms and period costumes. And it doesn’t seem in the least old-fashioned! On the contrary the sets, the costumes and the action go hand in hand with the music. The production breathes with Mozart - no artificial respiration is necessary - and we are confronted with real characters of the late 18th century. They are performed with a lightness and a cobweb-free liveliness that make them easily transformable to the present day.
McVicar has read the score closely and reacted to Mozart’s ‘under-story’ – the directions and comments that are in the orchestra, sometimes reinforcing the text, sometimes contrapuntal and even telling a different story. He, the composer, knows more than the characters themselves. In McVicar’s mind the overture is no mere prelude to the evening, where the audience have an opportunity to finish their conversations. This musical masterpiece is a little symphonic poem which, though in no way thematically related to the following play as the overtures to Così fan tutte and Die Zauberflöte are, lends itself to an amusing pantomime. And the high spirits that are evoked continue as an undercurrent all through the opera – even though there are also moments of darkness, even brutality. Count Almaviva, who is presented as a many-faceted human being, is also a hothead. In the second act he actually hits the Countess – maybe a nod in the direction of reality, where physical violence within marriage seems on the increase. Another parallel may be the teenaged Cherubino appearing markedly tipsy in the last act. Closer to the revolutionary ideas of Beaumarchais’s late 18th century is the obvious antagonism between Figaro and the Count. The third act scene with the sextet, when it is revealed that Marcellina and Bartolo are Figaro’s parents, is more straightforward comedy – but far from the slapstick farce it can sometimes be in less sensitive hands. Overall style is the buzzword for this production; inventiveness within a traditional concept. Just one tiny detail: there is no scene-shift between acts 3 and 4, just frozen positions and then over to Barbarina’s aria where she mourns the loss of the pin for which we have been prepared in the previous scene.
Musically it is also a highly attractive performance. Antonio Pappano paces the music excellently, giving the singers a certain freedom to make individual imprints and allowing them to embellish the vocal line. The effect is both stylish and elegant. It is also a musically very complete version where both Marcellina and Don Basilio are allowed their arias in the last act. Both are well sung. It is a particular pleasure to see and hear Philip Langridge in the latter role, vocally seemingly indestructible. He both looks and sings just as splendidly as he did when I last saw him on stage – and that must be close to twenty years ago!
Good singing and acting is moreover the order of the day with not a weak link among the cast. Erwin Schrott is a splendid Figaro, manly, youthful, good looking and a magnificent singer. He has bass notes that elude many a Figaro and generally makes a sensitive and believable valet. Miah Persson is a mercurial and expressive Susanna, definitely in the top flight of lyrical sopranos in the world today. Her facial expressions reveal all her feelings and she sings an exquisite last act aria. Together with her mistress, the Countess, she also performs a lovely Letter Duet in act 3. On her own Dorothea Röschmann excels in the Countess’s two arias, standing out as a truly tragic person but with a will of steel; this comes through in the intensity of her singing. Dove sono in act 3 is more powerful than most readings I have heard – but sensitive. Great singing indeed! Gerald Finley is also a splendid actor combining burnished tone with honeyed suavity when it suits him. Rinat Shaham is truly boyish in the notoriously difficult-to-cast role as Cherubino and sings with nervous passion. She is almost in the Christine Schäfer class, a singer to my mind unsurpassable in the role. Jonathan Veira, another splendid actor, makes the most of Dr Bartolo, even though he is more baritone than bass and lacks the booming bottom notes.
The presentation is exemplary with a detailed tracklist in the booklet which makes it easy to access individual numbers. The sound is splendid and the video direction excellent. There are enough overview pictures to get involved in the settings but the director works a lot with close-ups which pays dividends with so eminent a cast of singing actors. This is one of those DVD operas that requires to be seen again and more than once. Readers who don’t believe in over-fanciful reconstructions or transportations in time can rest assured that this is the real thing – and still up to date.
-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
LE NOZZE DI FIGARO
Figaro – Erwin Schrott
Susanna – Miah Persson
Count Almaviva – Gerald Finley
Countess Almaviva – Dorothea Röschmann
Marcellina – Graciela Araya
Barbarina – Ana James
Cherubino – Rinat Shaham
The Royal Opera Chorus
The Royal Opera House Orchestra
Antonio Pappano, conductor
David McVicar, stage director
Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, 10, 13 and 17 February 2006.
- The Magic of Mozart: Interviews with Antonio Pappano, David McVicar and principal cast.
- Cast gallery and illustrated synopsis.
Picture format: NTSC 16:9 Anamorphic
Sound format: DTS Surround 5.0 / LPCM Stereo
Region code: 0 (all)
Menu language: English
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian Read less
Works on This Recording
Le nozze di Figaro, K 492by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Performer:
Rinat Shaham (Soprano),
Graciela Araya (Mezzo Soprano),
Gerald Finley (Baritone),
Miah Persson (Soprano),
Erwin Schrott (Bass),
Dorothea Röschmann (Soprano)
Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,
Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
Period: Classical Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria Date of Recording: 02/2006 Venue: Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
A well-nigh perfect performanceFebruary 14, 2014By R H Weingartner (San Antonio, TX)See All My Reviews"The Marriage of Figaro comes close to being a perfect opera. Here it receives a well-nigh perfect performance. It is not only well sung and played, but it is well acted by an ensemble each of whose members look like the characters they are playing. It is well directed, takes place on a well-designed set that allows the action to move along at the pace that Mozart and da Ponte prescribed. A delight."Report Abuse