I really wanted to like this 1974 production, but it was so disappointing. It is not only one of my least favourite Mozart- opera productions, but one of the dullest I've seen. That is disappointing, considering the cast on paper and the fact it's from Glyndebourne who were responsible for the best Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail and one of the better Le Nozze Di Figaros and Idomeneos(1983) I've seen.
The production is not without good points. The shipwreck scene at the start is suitably thunderous, which sets us up for a promising start. Mozart's music is sublime, brimming with beauty and intensity. And there is one good performance, which belongs to Josephine Barstow who makes for an electrifying Elettra.
John Pritchard is a solid conductor, and does what he can, but to me the orchestra itself sounded under-rehearsed. A lot of the speeds and rhythms are stodgy, the playing themselves sounds rough and the intonation is flat. The production values are somewhat primitive, with the sets especially rather dull in the colours. This impression is not helped by the grainy picture quality and the glassy sound.
I was also disappointed at the first act being truncated. I am not always one to blow a hissy fit when a production makes cuts, but Ilia's first aria is one of my favourite starts of a Mozart opera, and I was just disappointed that it was cut for seemingly no reason. The staging seems very stand and deliver.
Barstow aside, I didn't care for the performances. My least favourite was Leo Goeke as Idamante, dramatically stolid and vocally sloppy. Bozena Betley has a great voice, but it is not dynamic enough, and I didn't feel enough pathos or innocence in her interpretation. I got the sense that her performance was reminiscent of a role like Adriana Lecouvreur than Ilia.
Alexander Oliver is a static Arbace, and while Dennis Wicks has some resonance as the voice of Neptune it isn't enough to redeem the production. The most disappointing contribution was from Richard Lewis. Lewis was a wonderful tenor, and a very intelligent and musical artist, but he is well past prime with signs of strain and his acting is rather stand-there-and-sing.
Overall, a real disappointment. My favourite versions are the Ponnelle designed Met performance with Pavarotti, Cotrubas, Behrens and Von Stade and the later Glyndebourne performance with Langridge. Even the 1991 Drottingholm performance had several impressive things. All three I would strongly recommend over this production, if it weren't for the impressive beginning, the quality of Mozart's music and Barstow's performance, it would have been a disaster. 3/10 Bethany Cox
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