Seldom has Sydney been treated to such a marvellous musical and visual feast. Thunderous applause, cheers and screams of bravo greeted the end of this sensational production of Mozart’s THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, directed by Sir David McVicar.
This is the second in a trio of Mozart works directed by McVicar that the Opera has organised. Some of the opera is joyous and sunny, but it can change in an instant and become quite dark. The Opera is about the superficiality of society and how much importance is placed on outward appearance.
The singing was stupendous and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra conducted by Guillame Tourniaire delivered a magnificent performance. Tourniaire’s conducting was inspired with great attention to detail and wonderful phrasing and timing allowing the music to glow. Particular mention of the harpsichord, crammed into the orchestra pit, which were mainly heard in the recitative.
Jenny Tiramani’s designs were sensational with great attention to detail– assorted rooms at the Count and Countess’s palace, all designed opulently yet with clean lines. The countess’ bedroom was in salmon/pointe shoe pink with a huge dust catching canopied bed, the count’s room in blue and the dining room had wonderful windows leading out to the porch and gardens.
David Finn’s magnificent lighting gave a bewitching Vermeer effect. The sumptuously detailed period costumes were glorious as if from a Vermeer, Rubens or Rembrandt painting.
Dark, bearded Paolo Bordogna in fabulous voice gave a rich, energetic and impetuous performance as Figaro. His arias were splendid in a delightful dark baritone. He defiantly stood up to his boss, the Count, and forcefully turned the tables on him.
Taryn Fiebig was splendid as Susanna, the Countess’ maid and Figaro’s fiancee. She was in wonderful voice, full of elegant refinement, and gave a fine assured performance, teasing Figaro, helping her mistress and joining in the teamwork to turn the tables on the Count and teach him a lesson. She becomes a Vermeer portrait when accompanying Cherubino in Voi Che Sapete on the lute. Her solo aria before the front curtain in Act 4 were a delicious, still moment of joyous reflection.
As Count Almaviva Andrei Bondarenko with his flowing hair was superb. He could be quite menacing – his sending away of Cherubino is serious– and is shown as arrogant, charismatic and a serial womanizer, with a fiery temper.
Nicole Car as the unhappy Countess was exquisitely beautiful. Should she forgive the Count?! Can –should – she try to save her marriage?! Her fluid, melancholic Dove Sono was lustrous and showstopping .
As the mischievous, lovestruck page Cherubino, secretly, achingly in love with the Countess (his godmother), one of the great ‘trouser’ roles when an actress appears as a man, Anna Dowsley was superb. Her Voi Che Sapete was enchantingly, passionately performed. Cherubino is portrayed as a young, handsome, tall and gangly, innocent troublemaker (or should that be NOT so innocent?!). One wonders how his enforced marriage to Barbarina, delightfully played by Eva Kong, will fare?!
Richard Anderson as Don Bartolo and Jacqueline Dark as Marcellina, who turn out to be Figaro’s parents, both severe in black, give fine performances too.
Benjamin Rasheed as Don Basilio has a wonderful time as an elegant, over the top, mustachioed, self-centred, pompous, sneering villain, with a mere veneer of respectability.
This was a glorious production. Running time 3 and a half hours including interval
Mozart’s THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO runs at the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House in rep until the 29th August.