Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro
Funky dancing and bad 1960s hair may not shed an especially new light on the greatest comic opera of all time, but Michael Grandage’s 2011 Glyndebourne production excels where it matters: in the truthfulness and warmth of these very human characters’ interrelationships. I saw this production on tour with a different cast – even finer, perhaps, with the exception of the Figaro. Vito Priante is simply the best I’ve seen, and in one of the accompanying documentaries he talks of delivering his Act IV aria more inwardly, bringing the audience to him rather than reaching out to grab them.
You end up liking just about everyone except Alan Oke’s sleazy music master. Audun Iversen’s Count Almaviva is genuinely racked with jealousy, not just male pride, about his wife’s supposed infidelity; he cuts a ludicrous but ultimately believable figure. Sally Matthews uses exceptional technique to surmount the big challenges with glorious phrasing; Lydia Teuscher’s Susanna sparkles throughout, and Isabel Leonard overcomes initial pitch problems to give us a portrait of Cherubino as a credible teenage boy. Ann Murray, Andrew Shore and Sarah Shafer contribute rounded cameos, and the fabulous, revolving, crumbling Moorish palace is beautifully filmed by the French team under the very experienced François Roussillon. Robin Ticciati, drawing a non-stop vivacity from the OAE, with horns splendidly vivid, gives his singers space when they need it. The documentaries are concise but equally spirited. Against fierce competition, led by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s starrily cast film, this is still one to return to.