Le Nozze di Figaro, with Esposito, Evans, Finley, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, May 2014Posted on 3 May 2014
In this latest revival of David McVicar’s 2006 production, Gerald Finley’s beautifully nuanced and stylish performance of the Count was a joy to behold. Full of restrained power, his premonition of success with Susanna expressed by the recitative and aria early in Act III showed a man in huge command of his household, only of course to have the smile wiped from his face later when a gaping hole appears in his plans, as Marcellina is revealed to be Figaro’s long lost mother.
In the meantime this production shows us the Countess’s anxiety and sadness as she muses on the past, which Rebecca Evans expressed beautifully. This was her role debut at the ROH — originally intended for last autumn, though cast changes dictated otherwise — and in her Dove sono i bei momenti she produced wonderful soft notes floating on the air. As the central character, Alex Esposito, well-known at Covent Garden for his Leporello, was an admirably youthful Figaro, firm of voice yet never over the top.
The conspirators, Bartolo (Christophoros Stamboglis), Marcellina (Marie McLaughlin) and Basilio (Guy de Mey) worked well together, with de Mey as amusingly camp, and McLaughlin exceptional with her lovely rounded tone. Camilla Tilling made a strong and knowing Susanna, and Anna Bonitatibus a very expressive Cherubino whose Act II aria on the sweet agony of love sounded like the heartfelt raptures of a counter-tenor.
David McVicar’s production, with Tanya McCallin’s 1830 French designs and lighting by Paule Constable reflecting the passing from dawn to dusk of this ‘crazy day’ (La folle journée in Beaumarchais’s original play), makes a hugely successful interplay between the characters, well revived here by Bárbara Lluch. Originally to have been conducted by the late Sir Colin Davis, it was taken over by House conductor David Syrus after John Eliot Gardiner (who conducted the previous revival in Autumn 2013) withdrew. Syrus produced fine light moments, but some of the singers’ entrances were slightly off, and an unwelcome stodginess appeared from time to time.
Yet with the excellent Gerald Finley at the top of his game, singing the same role as when this production was new in 2006, this is not to be missed.
Four further performances of this revival continue until May 15 — for details click here.