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One of the best Marriage of Figaro productions you will see
I do have a fondness for the 1975 Jean-Pierre Ponnelle film because I am a fan of both Mirella Freni and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and of course Hermann Prey is one of the best Figaros I've seen. But I absolutely love this production, the three hours just fly by, it looks wonderful and the singing is top notch.
Mozart's music is masterpiece status, there isn't a single aria from the opera I dislike, and the story has a timeless quality in that you can watch the opera over and over and find a new scene or situation to love each time.
The costumes are gorgeous without being too fluttery, and the sets especially the act 4 garden set are very pleasing. The camera work on the whole is nifty too, the orchestra are stylish and Bernard Haitink mostly chooses well-judged speeds and conducts with precision, something that I felt was an improvement over the 1975 film, where in comparison to this the recitatives especially feel somewhat stodgy.
The performances are exceptional. Alison Hagley is the one who steals the show for me as Susanna, she has a beautiful voice and is so natural and charming in her acting. Matching her in every way as Figaro is Gerald Finley who has a lively acting style and a quality to his voice that appeals to you. Renee Fleming is a lovely Countess, and does a fine job coping with the slow speed of her act 3 aria. Singing like a nightingale and looking suitably cherubic is Marie-Ange Todorovitch as Cherubino, and Andreas Schimdt is simply born to play the Count.
My only small complaints of an otherwise sublime production are that in the act 2 ensembles the singers are occasionally left behind, also for my liking Donald Adams(Antonio) sings his vowels a little too widely.
Overall, sublime. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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