ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Le nozze di Figaro
PERFORMER: Luca Pisaroni, Anett Fritsch, Martina Janková, Margarita Gritskova, Adam Plachetka, Ann Murray; Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera; Vienna Philharmonic/Dan Ettinger; dir. Sven-Eric Bechtolf (Salzburg, 2015)
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 8024272958; Blu-ray 8024272954
This live production, filmed in July 2015, was the ‘climax of the new Mozart/Da Ponte cycle’ at the Salzburg Festival. The director Sven-Erik Bechtolf has set the opera in a country house from the 1920s, and clearly Downton Abbey was not far from his mind. This could have worked quite well, though the determination to show upstairs and downstairs activity at all times (with split level staging) means that there is never enough room for an opulent drawing room, and Mozart’s wedding dances in the finale of Act III have to take place on the cramped landing by the kitchen.
Martina Janková’s Susanna is playful and alert, which suits the numerous action arias for her character. Adam Plachetka as Figaro is robust, though it takes him a while to focus his voice, and Pisaroni as the Count struggles to find any dignity or threat in his role (probably because the direction has a tendency to reduce the action to a country house farce, rather than a social and political struggle). Fritsch as the Countess in ‘Dove sono’ provides a moment of pure rapture, though her faster music is more brittle.
One singer to watch is Margarita Gritskova, technically adroit, though her voice is a little dark for Cherubino; another is Christina Gansch, who is a wacky but vocally flexible and sensitive Barbarina. Dan Ettinger directs the orchestra from the fortepiano, and keeps the music sparkling though sometimes it needs to breath a little more (in ‘Sull’aria’ for example).