Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Le Nozze di Figaro

(photo: Marty Sohl/Met Opera)

Conductor: David Robertson
Countess Almaviva: Maija Kovalevska
Susanna: Mojca Erdmann
Cherubino: Christine Schäfer
Count Almaviva: Gerald Finley
Figaro: Ildar Abdrazakov
Barbarina: Ashley Emerson
Marcellina: Margaret Latimore
Don Basilio: Don Graham Hall

Work has been insanely hectic for the past few weeks and so I thought I'd take advantage of this hurricane and ensuing office closure to finally update my blog.

Last Friday I attended the season premiere of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera. I haven't seen this opera in several years and it was a nearly great performance with Robertson leading the orchestra in top form. The recitatives were accompanied by Dan Saunders on the piano which was a nice change from the traditional harpsichord.

Finley was a fine Count with the appropriately menacing but subdued hauteur that worked for him so well in the title role of Don Giovanni last season. The rest of the cast was new to me. I especially enjoyed the lovely Erdmann as Susanna and Schäfer as Cherubino. Emerson was especially charming as Barbarina. Abdrazakov was a wonderful Figaro with a robust physicality that reminded me of a young Bryn Terfel. Graham Hall as Don Basilio and Latimore as Marcellina were entertaining though a bit one dimensional but then there's not a lot of depth to their characters.

Kovalevska was the weak link in the cast. For Le Nozze to work its magic, the Countess should be a model of virtue and suffering, bringing an emotional gravitas to balance the other characters' ribald humor and silliness. Mozart's music for the Countess is full of exquisite longing but I heard none of that, with Kovaleska barreling through her arias with uneven pitch and monotonous expression. Indeed, in Porgi amor and Dove sono I was wholly unconvinced of her nobility and devotion. Instead she merely seemed like an annoyed Real Housewife whose credit card had been declined during a shopping spree.

One thing about Kovalevska though is that her comic timing was flawless. The closing ensembles in all four acts were sung beautifully in the perfect buffa style. That said, I'm tempted to see the opera again when Hei Kyung Hong takes over the role of the Countess on November 17.

As a side note, the Metropolitan Opera will resume performances tomorrow. The New York Philharmonic announced the same then cancelled a few minutes ago on Twitter and then deleted the tweet announcing the cancellation. Carnegie Hall will remain closed, presumably until that dangling crane that caused the evacuation of West 57th Street gets taken down. But I do hope that Carnegie Hall will be up and running soon. After all, they have a wonderful season ahead and of course, the show must go on.

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