Notes and Editorial Reviews
Also available on Blu-ray
Filmed at the Paris Opera with a cast including the great Mozart figures of our time, Giorgio Strehler’s legendary production is now available for the first time on DVD and Blu-ray.
Any reprise of the Strehler Nozze di Figaro has to be a major event. And in 2010, thirty-seven years after its première, the work met with a fresh triumph at the Opéra Bastille, featuring a new generation of performers: Ludovic Tézier (Count Almaviva), Barbara Frittoli (Countess Almaviva), Ekaterina Siurina (Susanna), Luca Pisaroni (Figaro) et Karine Deshayes (Cherubino).
As musical director Philippe Jordan
reveals the Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra National de Paris at the height of their powers.
And as a bonus: an interview with Humbert Camerlo, who worked for many years with Giorgio Strehler and was the stage director for this reprise.
“Strehler’s Figaro shines again” THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
“Fine Cast Revives Strehler’s Treasured Nozze di Figaro Production” OPERAWARHORSES.COM
Director: Don Kent
Bonus: Interview with Humbert Camerlo
Length: 178 min - Image: Coolor, 16/9, NTSC
Audio: PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.0
Subtitles: French / English / German / Spanish / Italian
"While serving as general director at the Paris Opéra from 2004 to 2009, Gerard Mortier’s efforts to “revolutionize” the house included ordering the destruction of sets for many beloved, relatively traditional productions, and selling off or giving away their costumes to various collections. His successor, Nicolas Joël, has since gone to considerable expense to reconstruct those productions. One is
Le Nozze di Figaro
, first seen in 1973, and a favorite thereafter. Much had to be reconstructed from photographs and memory, with members of stage director Giorgio Strehler’s original team involved in the effort. The new-old production was unveiled at the end of 2010, and filmed at that time.
It succeeds better than La Scala’s similar attempt to reconstruct Strehler’s
in 2006 (Arthaus Musik 101 589). The sets are spacious, suggestive of oversized rooms in an 18th-century Spanish mansion. The depth and height of the stage are made use of for entry points and atmosphere, with bright offstage lighting and large windows insinuating the warmth of an outside world. Props are reasonably chosen: The bed and folding divider with table of act II don’t merely set the location, but anchor two areas for the opposing groups of players who will clash in the finale. The reconstructed costumes are both vividly colorful, and accurate. This Count doesn’t merely look like a generic nobleman, but like an 18th-century Spanish aristocrat of conservative tastes. Humbert Camerlo, Strehler’s one-time assistant, directs with good attention to pacing and blocking. His
isn’t an opera of solos, but of characters interacting with each other all the time. He also pushes the boundaries of the conventional just a bit in a couple of sensible ways: This Countess actually does lose herself for a moment in an almost-kiss with Cherubino (Susanna breaks the spell), and this Figaro has a hair trigger temper that almost goads this proud, reserved Count into slapping him in public.
The performances range from good to outstanding. At the high end are Luca Pisaroni and Ludovic Tézier. Pisaroni’s Figaro is more angry than ironic during “Se vuol ballare,” and both bitter and furious in “Aprite un po’ quegl’ occhi.” (Kudos, too, for his finding different gestures and expressions to convey the same emotion upon repeats in da capo sections.) He is loving with Susanna, but sparks of temper flair up even during their recitative in act II. He is an excellent foil to Tézier’s Count, whose poise is less broken than most, and therefore all the more impressive when it gives way. He makes much of “Vedrò mentr’io sospiro,” utilizing a dark baritone that contrasts well with Pisaroni’s lighter tone. Whoever thought of holding off Almaviva’s kneel until the final notes of his beg for pardon in act IV, whether Tézier or Camerlo, deserves an approving nod for a good touch. You wonder until the last moment whether this particular Andalusian grandee will show that much humility.
Ekaterina Siurina’s Susanna is not as fully formed a character as Pisaroni’s Figaro, her gestures too generically stagey at times, her visual focus less consistently engaged. This doesn’t mean her performance is poor; merely that it isn’t at his level. As a singer, she couldn’t be bettered in the part, bringing notably warm, smooth, flexible phrasing to “Deh, vieni.” Barbara Frittoli is off-form at the start of act II, with a strong pulse to her voice, and an extremely careful rendition of her aria that garnered no applause. The pulse is significantly reduced if still present by the time she gets to “Dove sono,” but she delivers the aria openly, with ravishing tone, to great appreciation. Karine Deshayes is also at less than her best at first. She’s not a good physical fit for Cherubino: too tall for the boy, and in the first couple of acts, costumed in such a way as to bring Octavian to mind. It was apparent she arranged with Jordan to quickly move over the expected but missing diminuendos in “Non so più,” but “Voi che sapete” later on is as beautiful as one could wish.
All the lesser characters act well portrayed, with Christian Tréguier’s Antonio a sensible gardener for once, instead of the dull, drunken clown we often see. Ann Murray’s ruby tone is still present, but at this advanced point in her career her natural vibrato has slowed considerably and become pronounced. Robert Lloyd is less pompous as Bartolo, more the acute lawyer, and Robin Leggate’s self-effacing Basilio navigates the high part in the act I trio with delightful agility. Philippe Jordan leads a lively performance, a bit short on sentiment at times, but with plenty of attention to color and wit."
FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
Works on This Recording
Le nozze di Figaro, K 492 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Karine Deshayes (Mezzo Soprano),
Ekaterina Siurina (Soprano),
Ludovic Tézier (Baritone),
Barbara Frittoli (Soprano),
Luca Pisaroni (Bass Baritone)
Paris National Opera Chorus,
Paris National Opera Orchestra
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria
Be the first to review this title