Welsh National Opera: The Marriage of Figaro at Theatre Royal Plymouth (review)

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TV comic, Harry Hill’s usual way of sorting things out is to fight, while Welsh National Opera director, Lluis Pasqual, here seems to prefer to dance.

In fact, it doesn’t take much for the characters in The Marriage of Figaro to have a quick fandango, whenever a bit of action is called for in his 1930s view of the opera, which tends to rely somewhat more on pantomime, than address the nitty-gritties of Beaumarchais’s original comedy.

For the most part the set is sparse, though the kaleidoscopic use of mirrors in the garden-scene works well, and lighting is good throughout.

Conductor, Stephen Wood, takes everything at just the right pace, and the orchestral playing is first-rate, distinguished by some highly-inventive harpsichord continuo from Cameron Burns.

David Soar was in fine voice and always secure, though that little spark of extra high-spiritedness, which characterises a truly outstanding Figaro, seemed elusive.

Similarly, Dario Solan (Count) sang well, but didn’t quite provide the full dramatic balance to the plot overall.

Elizabeth Watts’s outstanding Suzanna was one of the production’s real highlights, contrasting well with Camilla Robert’s Countess, who brought the necessary depth of emotion to the role, while not shirking on the humour either.

With good strengths in the supporting roles, and a nicely-sung contribution from Joanne Boag as Barbarina, this is an entertaining take on Mozart’s original, though arguably not one of the best we’ll ever see.


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