MOZART Le nozze di Figaro – Pappano
Here is a Figaro to put with the 1973 Glyndebourne production placed among the top five operatic DVDs (4/08). Presiding in the pit is Pappano, sure of touch, and on stage, Erwin Schrott, a god’s-gift Figaro; he and his Susanna, Miah Persson, must be the handsomest pair in the world of opera. The producer is David McVicar who has thought of a thousand good ideas and only two bad ones (anon), with a team that has done the Royal Opera House proud. Count and Countess are distinguished and memorable, and I should say there’s not a member of the company (down to the well individualised servants) who does not contribute worthily.
Figaro and Susanna are very much the centre here, and we like them not only because they sing and act well but because they are sympathetic in a modern way. Or perhaps that is a way of saying that they give the kind of performance the camera likes: their energy is creditably youthful and spontaneous, and their facial expressions work largely through eyes and eyebrows. They deal in light ironies, delicate apprehensions. And both have voices ideally suited to their music, Schrott with richness and depth, Persson with freshness that is sharp-pointed to just the right degree. Dorothea Röschmann’s Countess is an unusually active, passionate woman, and her voice, which a few years ago would have been a natural Susanna, has filled out suprisingly. The Count’s is an unenviable role: nobody likes him, and by Act 4 he has begun to wear his “foiled-again” expression too often. Finley goes grim-faced from one defeat to another, singing like a true aristocrat all the way. Of the others, Jonathan Veira’s pop-eyed Bartolo deserves mention, straight from the pen of “Boz”.
The producer’s two misjudgements are (I think) letting the company enter halfway through the Count’s aria and cutting off at the end of what is normally Act 3 so as (presumably) to intimate a new seriousness in what is to follow. Maybe both work better in the house. They didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the DVD, and nor did anything else.