Brisk and attractive Figaro

This recording of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro was made in 2004 and released on DVD, which won a Grammy.  It’s now been remastered and released on Blu-ray.  It was recorded at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris and directed by Jean-Louis Martinoty.  The production is visually attractive and well thought out but not concept driven in any way.  The sets are largely made up of 16th century paintings while the costumes are the operatic version of the 17th or maybe 18th century; low necklines, full skirts, breeches etc.  There are a few interesting touches.  Act 3 is set in the count’s curio room with dead reptiles, skulls and so on and it seems somehow to provoke extreme nostalgia in the countess during Dove sono.  For the most part it’s a highly competent, well paced effort though with nothing new or different to say.

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Orlando Paladino

Haydn’s Orlando Paladino is a “heroic comedy” based, of course, on Ariosto.  In this version Angelica, queen of Cathay, and her lover Medoro have fled to a remote castle to get away from Orlando who is in love, of course, with Angelica.  There’s a shepherd and shepherdess, a sorceress, a squire and Rodomonte, the king of Barbary thrown into the mix and various misadventures ensue until the sorceress, Alcina, dips Orlando into the waters of Lethe causing him to forget being in love with Angelica and it all ends happily.  There are also a bunch of non-singing characters who, I think represent the “dangerous” people of this remote country.  For reasons I haven’t quite fathomed they include a bishop and a bearded air hostess.

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Cool and refined Barbiere

Emilio Sagi’s 2005 production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia is incredibly elegant and restrained. It looks like something by Robert Carsen.  The sets are all constructed and transformed in full view and just about everything is black and white until the final scene.  There is a lot of background action and commentary from a talented group of dancers who give a very Spanish feel to the piece.  The final scene bursts into vivid, even loud, colour and the finale is just gorgeous to look at. The direction of the actors is well thought out too though they do seem to sing from on top of furniture a lot of the time.

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