Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro

LABELS: Opus Arte
WORKS: Le nozze di Figaro
PERFORMER: Erwin Schrott, Miah Persson, Gerald Finley, Dorothea Röschmann, Rinat Shaham; Royal Opera House Chorus & Orchestra/Antonio Pappano; dir. David McVicar (London, 2006)
CATALOGUE NO: OA 0990 D (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16:9 anamorphic)
Anyone who doesn’t love Figaro might as well give up on music, and I’d be inclined to add, give up on life. Its characters, all vivid and rounded, are in a state of constant ‘stress’, as they would not have called it, but their emotional lives are full and intense, and all this is conveyed in music of unflagging inspiration, immaculately groomed. All a producer has to do is to enable us to see this incomparable drama more clearly, so that we can love it more completely.


David McVicar is eager to bring as much hyper-activity to Figaro as he can: even the overture is only the accompaniment to innumerable comings and goings, with Figaro being debagged along the way. Less would certainly have meant more with so accomplished a cast, in which Gerald Finley’s Count, Miah Persson’s Susanna and Rinat Shaham’s Cherubino stand out as ideal. Erwin Schrott is a sexy, ingenious Figaro, but he alternates between shouting and whispering in the recitatives; while Dorothea Röschmann is not up to the others’ standard in acting, and has some uneasy vocal moments too. The smaller roles are strongly cast, with Philip Langridge as a hilariously malevolent but unexaggerated Basilio. The world these characters inhabit is 1830, for no good reason. Antonio Pappano’s conducting is mainly crisp and incisive, but there are depths of pain, and of joy too, that his account doesn’t plumb. Despite which I was glowing well before the end, and much of the performance is on so high a level that it needs to be seen. Michael Tanner