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WNO's The Marriage of Figaro (Plymouth - tour)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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The Welsh National Opera opens its touring triple bill with a revival of Lluis Pasqual’s Marriage of Figaro.

In a frothy, pretty production played for laughs, Mozart’s comic love story is brought into early 20th Century Spain with ditzy print dresses and art nouveau furnishings.

Unfortunately, although without a doubt superbly competent, the performances generally do not excite with sopranos Camilla Roberts and Elizabeth Watts the exceptions.

Roberts is emotive as Countess Almaviva – believably torn between her love for and fear of her husband. Her ‘Dovo sono’ is rich and full of expression – excellent.

Watts is an impish, full-of-character Susanna whose soaring arias are vivacious and balanced. Tremendous facial expressions bring comic touches without being ham-fisted as is the case, unfortunately, elsewhere in the cast.

Baritone-bass David Soar is un-engaging but very able vocally as Figaro. At times glimpses of a raffish rogue emerge but generally this is a stiff performance as indeed is that of Dario Solari as the Count who is unbelievable as the all-powerful lord seeming instead to be a bully and cuckold led astray by a roving eye.

There has clearly been direction but the execution of set-piece acting is too laboured. There is no real feeling of relationship between the men – difficult to see the Count and Figaro as rivals, duped and duper, master and servant.

With Patricia Orr playing Cherubino as a teenage lust-struck oaf (with a beautifully timed ‘Voi che sapente’), Henry Waddington a pompous Dr Bartolo, Timothy Robinson superbly sycophantic as Don Basilio, Sarah Pring very ‘Hyacinth Bouquet’ as Marcellina, and Joanne Boag unashamedly wanton as Barbarina, there are some lovely if not sparkling ensemble pieces.

Stephen Wood conducts an impeccable Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera with harpsichordist Cameron Burns and cellist Alexandra Robinson of particular note.

Paco Azorin’s set is simple and adaptable with clean lines and interesting mirrored effects. The only let down here is the final act movement of sliding mirrors which, rather than adding an apposite claustrophobic and confusing atmosphere to the shenanigans in the forest, are rather too juddery so draw too much attention to themselves with a bated breath will-they-won’t-they-stick-or-fall-over distraction.

Nice but dull.


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