Heading for the altar: David Soar as Figaro (centre): Pictures: Bill Cooper

 The Marriage of Figaro

Welsh National Opera

Birmingham Hippodrome

****

THE Marriage of Figaro is often regarded as one of the most perfect of operas and Lluis Pasqual's production does not make one think in any other way. 

The aspect of impending political turmoil is deftly captured in this production, interestingly and creatively set in the house and gardens of Count Almaviva, some distance from Seville in the Spain of the 1930s.  

As is so important with this opera, there is a cast ready to deliver the humour, the energy and the many musical highlights of this rather "mad” day in the life of an aristocratic household. 

The conductor, Anthony Negus was successful in conveying even the smallest ironies embedded in the opera, thus bringing the polyphony to the fore of the mind of the audience.  

The orchestra demonstrated a real respect for Mozart's wonderful score and the humor radiated throughout. The pace was spot on and the orchestra worked together in order to do real justice to this masterpiece of orchestral writing. 

The plot of Figaro itself is complex and does take a little time to understand, especially when sung in Italian with intermittent surtitles positioned way above the proscenium, giving rise to a rather stiff neck after sitting in the stalls for three and a half hours and attempting to also watch the action on stage! 

Soprano Rebecca Evans as Countess Almaviva who was Rosina in an another life, or at least another opera, Figaro being a continuation some year's later of the plot of The Barber of Seville

The voices of the Countess (Rebecca Evans, soprano), Count Almaviva (Dario Solari, baritone), Susanna, (Elizabeth Watts, soprano), and Figaro (David Soar, bass), were all strong and well matched, which was very important because Mozart's numerous ensembles require that each voice be heard individually at the same time and that the “One” idea of the ensemble is also heard as they sing together.  

Also in solo arias, including Cherubino, (Jurgita Adamonyté, mezzo-soprano), the performers captivated the audience with a clear desire to get across Mozart's ideas. 

For me, Act 3 was the highlight of this production as conductor, soloists and chorus worked impeccably together in order to ensure quite a magical montage of beautiful melodies and clear musical overtones. The creative use of lighting and the extremely interesting set design added to a most spectacular opening following the interval. 

The design of the final act was a little difficult and unsteady and the audience should certainly not see the up stage right Deputy Stage Manager, however this should not detract from what was another triumph for Welsh National Opera. The nuptuals are repeated on 10-03-12.

Adrian Jackson

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