Stephen Medcalf's production of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro celebrates the reopening of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera House after two years of closure, and what a celebration it turns out to be! Thanks to Gerald Finley as Figaro, Alison Hagley as Susanna, Renée Fleming as the Countess and Andreas Schmidt as the count, and the London Philharmonic conducted by Bernard Haitink, I sat spell-bound for just over three hours of fantastic singing and wonderful acting. The libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte turns the 1778 play by Beaumarchais into a typical silly comedy on the battle between the sexes very similar to some of Shakespeare's comedies like A Midsummer Night's Dream. That means that we are presented with lots of confusion, mixed identities, a boy dressed up as a girl (Cherubino, very well done by Marie-Ange Todorovitch), hilarious dialogue with lots of double entendre and a very satisfying, humane, happy ending. As far as I am concerned the absolute star of this production is Alison Hagley whose fantastic acting (at least as good as her singing) moves the play along to its inevitable end.
The only points of criticism is the occasionally shrill quality of the recording and the at times unimaginative camera work and/or cutting which sometimes detracts from the drama as when we are offered a close-up when you can tell from the audience's reaction that a fullshot is required (they laugh at a joke not shown on screen), or the shots taken from such a height as to present the stage scenery in an unfavourable light (completely out of perspective). But these are minor points in an otherwise wonderful production.
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