Guth’s Figaro at the COC

Claus Guth’s production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, first seen at Salzburg in 2006, opened last night at the COC.  I was curious to see how it would be received because, while by no means an extreme production by European standards, it’s well beyond the 1970s aesthetic beloved by sections of the Toronto audience.  The aesthetic is Northern European; a Strindberg play or a Bergmann film perhaps.  It’s monochromatic, quite slow and focusses on the darker side of the characters’ psyches.  It’s the antithesis of Figaro as Feydeau farce.  There’s also a non-canonical character, Cherubim.  He’s a winged doppelganger of Cherubino and seems to be a cross between Cupid and Puck.  Pretty much omnipresent he manipulates scenes and characters though with a power that falls well short of absolute.  Perhaps the whole production is best summed up in the final ensemble.  Cherubim visits each couple in turn and is brusquely rejected.  Only Cherubino is still subject to his power and that seems to have become destructive.  Perhaps the message is “Now we are married forget this love nonsense and let us get back to our drab lives of quiet despair”.

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