The Marriage of Figaro
FRANK CLIFF Norwich Theatre Royal
Norwich Theatre Royal
Da Ponte may have produced a brilliant libretto for Figaro, but it was Mozart's idea to base an opera on Beaumarchais' subversive play with its implicit criticism of France's “Old Regime”.
From the rather dowdy sets for Opera North's production, the Revolution may not be quite imminent but Count Almaviva's castle has definitely seen better days.
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Sung in English, there is nothing innovative in this production, which may be no bad thing. No great voices perhaps but the singing is mostly good.
Wyn Pencarrig makes a very personable Figaro, though he doesn't quite project that air of menace of one bent on getting the upper hand of his master.
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Howard Reddy hasn't quite got the gravitas necessary for Count Almaviva; Jenie Bern is a charming Susanna and Linda Richardson sings her two arias well, but what lets down this production is director Caroline Gaun investing her singers with so much “business”, especially in the big ensembles that it is a wonder that they have the energy left to sing.
In addition, conductor Martin Pickard pushes the music along so fast that it sometimes rocks the ensemble.
The result is plenty of energy but precious little wit and not a great deal of elegance.