For this piece I looked at a production of Mozart’s seminal opera buffa The Marriage of Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) produced by David McVicar at the Royal Opera House in London. Click here to see the trailer and here to see the rental page from Digital Theatre.
This production by The Royal Opera House has gone some way to dispel ideas of opera being for a certain class of theatregoer in that it’s an accessible experience for the ears and the eyes with ticket prices starting at an unbelievable £6.00 (matinee) and £10.00 (evenings). Click here for details. Enormous mobile sets are shuttled around the stage in concord with the action taking place upon it and the effect is one of continuity, not leaving the viewer thinking “what’s happening now” as one tries to reimagine a scene in an inappropriate setting. The cast are uncrowded in the performance area and the synchronised movements between settings are gloriously smooth.
Erwin Schrott, taking the role of Figaro leaves us in no doubt of the quality of performance in store with his first cavatina “Se vuol ballare, Signor Contino” and the action begins in earnest. Schrott’s sonorous performance is equalled throughout the extremely competent cast and allows us to get as close as I can imagine to the sound in Mozart’s head as he composed the piece 230-odd years ago.
It’s hard to compress the delight of seeing an authentically produced Mozart classic without becoming loquacious and gushing but one must note in particular the performance given by Dorothea Röschmann as the countess, effortlessly producing humour, despondency, anger or joy with grace and enchanting competence. The divide between the cast and orchestra is as seamless as it could possibly be and is as one would expect with Antonio Pappano at the rostrum and the band heroically grasp the nettle with a joyful accuracy from the very first stirrings of the overture.
Overall this is an outstanding production of an outstanding opera, delivered with no expense spared and no shortcuts taken, highlighted (for instance) by the inclusion of the “Il capro” aria by Marcellina in act 4, so often omitted.