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I say surprisingly not just because of the mixed reviews I read on Amazon and other websites but I also worried whether Mozart's masterpiece would work in a modern setting. But having enjoyed Sellars' Don Giovanni, I told myself why not? And you know what, while not as good as that production or not the best ever Nozze Di Figaro(aka Marriage of Figaro), I did enjoy it. The updated setting, in an above Manhatten penthouse, looked great, and the costumes were fitting to this setting.
The music is still outstanding, and brought to life to a stylish orchestra, authoritative conducting and well-balanced chorus. The sound and picture quality are clear, however the camera work has moments where it's choppy.
The staging is quite interesting, the ending is beautifully done, there is a lot of sexual tension between Susanna, Countess and Cherubino and I felt a lot of fire during the Count's vengeance aria. What I liked most about Sellars' direction/staging was how it presented Cherubino, Susan Garson is very beautiful and innocent-looking but with the ripped jeans and hockey jersey I actually believed Cherubino was a male.
In fact there were only two bits that didn't work for me, or I felt could've done better. One was that when we see Antonio he is supposed to be drunk, I don't think there was enough of that here. The other was the idea of the Count throwing around the Countess in act 2. He is a menacing character, but I couldn't help thinking how he was depicted at this point was a little too extreme here.
Performances-wise, this Nozze Di Figaro is solid across the board. Susan Garson as Cherubino was the standout I feel. Jayne West's voice may be a tad too lyric for the role, nonetheless she sings very musically and intelligently. James Maddalena in a very Donald Trump-like performance is s strong count.
Jeanne Ommerle is charming as Susanna, even if I felt she could have been more suited for the Countess. Sanford Sylvan's Figaro is suitably hearty, and there's good chemistry between him and Ommerle. Of the more minor roles, Frank Kelley as Basilio fares best.
All in all, entertaining. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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