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Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro 2014
Description: Richard Eyre’s elegant production, which opened the Met’s 2014–15 season, sets the action of Mozart’s timeless social comedy in a manor house in 1930s Seville. Ildar Abdrazakov leads the cast as the resourceful Figaro set on outwitting his master, the philandering Count Almaviva, played by Peter Mattei. Marlis Petersen sings Susanna, the object of the Count’s affection and Figaro’s bride-to-be, Amanda Majeski is the Countess, and Isabel Leonard gives a standout performance as the pageboy Cherubino. Melody Director James Levine on the podium brings out all the humor, drama, and humanity of Mozart’s score.
Released: 18 Oct 2014 Director: Gary Halvorson Writers: Lorenzo da Ponte (libretto) Actors: Ildar Abdrazakov, Marlis Petersen, John Del Carlo, Susanne Mentzer Genres: Music
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Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro Reviews:

This Met production had much going for it- that the opera is not only one of Mozart's greatest but also one of to me the best operas; that it was directed by Richard Eyre who did such a nice job with Werther last season; that it had an immensely talented cast(including Ildar Abdrazakov, Marlis Petersen and Peter Mattei) and that James Levine was conducting. And the production lived up to each bit of potential it promised and more, it is one of the greatest Figaros I've seen and one of the greatest opera productions seen recently. It's also better than any of the productions from last season, which was a consistent in quality season overall and in a nice way.So what was it about this Le Nozze Di Figaro that made it as wonderful as it was? Well that it was hugely entertaining and involving the whole time was a large factor. The comedy- some of it broad, some of it subtle- is just hilarious and in a method that never loses the spirit of the opera while making it relevant now. This is especially real in Act 2, which is from private view has everytime been the funniest and most eventful of the four acts, even the subtitles are a riot as well as the sparkling interplay between the performers(one of Eyre's strengths in his direction and one of the strengths of the production too). The production also has a surprising amount of depth too, the final ensemble is as tender and emotional as you can get, and the count should have just been an arrogant bully but the production strongly gives the notion that he is that but also a conflicted hero who is not entirely sure what he wants.The staging is very witty and inventive(without being overly so), maintaining all the opera's themes while also succeeding in making them and the humour actual within the setting and today's standards. The staging of the Overture was clever, it should easy not have worked but nice test is made of the revolving sets and it sets up the storyline really well. The large ensemble at the Act 2 is hilarious and Dove Sono is affectingly intimate, how I felt the Countess's pain in this aria. Only one touch didn't quite come off as well as it should have done, and that was right at the end of Act 2 with the singers' "fourth wall" moment that felt out of zone and makes one question what purpose it had for being there. The revolving sets are smoothly transitioned(no overlong stage changes thank goodness) and look beautiful, even if the Act 4 garden setting doesn't really look like a garden the visuals are still attractive. They evoke the early 30s setting(where the production is set) most evocatively, and the same can be told with the costumes that fitted the characters and their personalities very well, especially with the Countess and the Count.Musically it's even better, with near-faultless orchestral testing that shows perfect style, continuous energy and the textures and phrasing sound great. The chorus' role here is not large but they sounded well-rehearsed and balanced and looked committed. James Levine's conducting is one of the production's many highlights, he takes nice care accommodating the needs of the performers/singers but his mostly quite brisk tempos give the unbelievable melody a true verve that was maintained from begin to finish. This is mentioned a lot by me but only because it's necessary for a conductor to do that. That said, the slow tempo for the ending forgiveness stage is perfect, it is a sublime passage(one of Mozart's most sublime in fact) that needs plenty of line and space. And line and zone this stage had that most likely would not have been achieved faster.Performances here are exceptional especially from Marlis Petersen, whose Susanna is essentially the glue of the story, she plays with a nice deal of charm and shrewishness(more so than most Susannas) and her singing has an appealing plushness. Loved her sly vocal expression which provided a lot of the production's humour too. Peter Mattei is also a standout, his voice is rich in an incredibly warm method and his Count is menacing but also, as seen in some of his saying facial expressions- like at the begin of Act 3-, conflicted as well. Ildar Abdrazakov is dashing and hearty as Figaro and sings sonorously and flexibly, a voice that is capable of roles like this and heavier roles(like his outstanding Prince Igor last season). Isobel Leonard proves herself to be a velvety-voiced and musical singer and she captures the boyish teenage angst of Cherubino brilliantly, like with the awkward walking in heels in Act 2. Amanda Majeski is a deeply moving Countess while showing some moments of steel, her voice is of an appealing timbre if more in her full middle register than her occasionally wiry top.Suzanne Mentzer is delicious in all senses as Marcellina, showing that Susanna's insults(including a witty dig at her age) really do sting. John Del Carlo's has seen better days vocally(though this only shows on opportunities rather than on a whole) as Bartolo but he more than makes up for that with the robustness of his interpretation and crisp diction. Greg Fedderly as Basilio is incredibly funny with vocal expression even more sly than Petersen's, Ying Fang's Barbarina is charming and pretty as a button and Phillip Cokorinos is an entertainingly indignant Antonio. Scott Scully is okay as Curzio if not as memorable as the rest- then again Curzio is type of a forgettable role- and his voice while great carries least in ensembles. The HD as ever looks splendid with some of the camera work having a easy cinematic approach in places, the sound allows us to play the melody totally and Renee Fleming's hosting is engaging. All in all, a wonderful production. 9.5/10 Bethany Cox


Cannot trust Bethany Cox hasn't written a review of this opera. It is so well done, but I everytime expect to see her reviews after I watch one of the Nice Performances series. Modernized to the 1930s by the film's director, in his interview after the production, he stated that like the original 1780s time setting of Mozart's work, the 1930s was one of impending political and globe chaos. During such times, the sexual shenanigans which are so much a part of this opera are supposedly especially pronounced. The only trouble I had was the costume designed for Susanna - it was of relatively dour colors, and failed to bring out the obvious attraction that her hero was eliciting in virtually all the male leads. Isobel Leonard took my breath away on more than one opportunity with her pretty singing in the role of Cherubino, while Peter Mattei was also impressive as the Count who is so frustrated again and again by the machinations of those around him. Honestly, it is most unusual for an opera to create me laugh out loud as I did during this performance on more than one occasion. I only write reviews when none exist previously, so I hope this will satisfy those who, like me, had a thoroughly enjoyable time watching this production of one of Mozart's most delightfully diverting compositions.



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