Ed's talk: Le Nozze di Figaro from post-Levine Met

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Le Nozze di Figaro from post-Levine Met

I had many reservations about this production of “Le Nozze di Figaro” including the unnecessary added visuals which included the servant girls “cleaning and setting up the stage” during the overture but, considering the many other  ”sins”, this may only have been a minor rather than a “cardinal “sin”!, (I have never liked the Met’s modernization of time periods, sets, costumes and attitudes.)

But I was impressed with the Met’s physical setup as I hadn’t been there in many years, and was very much taken with the revolving sets.

I thought the Count (the baritone Mariusz Kwiecień ) was underpowered (especially compared to the greatest exponent of the part, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau who unfortunately can no longer sing the part having died in 2012 ) but liked the Susannah of Sierra and especially the Countess of Ailyn Pérez. The Figaro (Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov) was just ok in the part. At one point (we were sitting close to the stage) he repeatedly shined his flashlight (!) directly into my eyes but I think he eventually spotted me and stopped shining it. (an example of my own audience participation?)

Maybe Marcellina (Katarina Leoson) could have been made up to look like the old crone she is supposed to be, as is necessary to the later plot developments. (Yes, I am now deliberately avoiding a major “spoiler”!)

Isabel Leonard was very satisfactory in the famous “trouser role” of the perpetually  lovesick Cherubino and handled the musical, acting and athletic demands of the role adeptly.

Where we sat, I felt that conductor Harry Bicket did overpower the smaller voices at times, but mostly kept the ensemble under control.

But, by and large, I don’t think we are living in the golden age of great voices!!!

Addendum, March 7th, 2018: After asking several more experienced opera-goers, I found that they mostly seem to think the best place to sit at the Met is towards the first row of the balcony even if these seats are not inexpensive. But I suppose that, in addition to avoiding Figaro's notorious flashlight,  one hears a bettter sound mixture and experiences fewer visual obstructions that seem inevitable while sitting in the orchestra seats.


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