I am getting the chance to watch lots of opera over the next few weeks while Mrs. G is in Australia, even though she does phone me occasionally to tell me to turn the sound down. I watched this 2004 production from Paris Chatelet the day after I saw the BBC broadcast of the latest 2006 production of Figaro from Covent Garden. It was interesting to see that they both start with Figaro measuring Susanna's vital statistics rather than the dimensions of the bedroom. At least in the London production Figaro has the decency to use a ruler, whereas in this Paris production he uses his hands.
Both productions pay great attention to the detail of the plot and, in this production, Jean-Louis Martinoty the stage director makes this most complicated of operas quite clear. He is helped by a brilliant design that looks like an artist's studio with over-sized canvasses everywhere. These are moved around as required and provide good concealment for Cherubino. Only the final act is a little unclear with the singers hiding behind gauzy curtains on a fairly murky stage.
Luca Pisaroni is vocally excellent but makes an uncharismatic Figaro. Rosemarie Joshua as Susanna has a thin, but beautiful voice, a sort of female Art Garfunkel. Singing alone she sounds a little exposed but she is splendid when providing the high notes in the ensembles. Annette Dasch is vocally wayward as the Contessa and does not seem up to her two big arias although, again, she is fine in the ensembles. Pietro Spagnoli is somewhat lacking in testosterone as the Count. Sophie Pondjiclis makes the most of her opportunities as Marcellina. The minor roles, which are so important in this opera are, generally, no more than adequate so that, for example, the comic possibilities of the scene where Figaro discovers he is the son of Marcellina and Don Bartolo are mostly missed.
Angelika Kirchschlager may no longer look sufficiently boyish to play Cherubino but she has always filled a good pair of trousers and looks very fetching in her pink velvet suit. Her "Voi che sapete" is, for me, the highlight of the production although the churlish Paris audience does not applaud it. She makes her escape, not through the window as is usual but by diving into the orchestra pit. I thought the film director, Pierre Barret missed a trick here by not showing her landing on a tangled heap of musicians. René Jacobs conducts an orchestra of what sounded to me like period instruments. Perhaps they were too expensive to be jumped on.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?