Nozze Times 2: Second One Excels

SpainSpain Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro, Teatro Real Orchestra and Chorus, Ivor Bolton (conductor), Teatro Real, Madrid, 17 & 18.9.2014 (JMI)

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Figaro: Andrea Wolf/Davide Luciano
Susanna: Sylvia Schwartz/Eleonora Buratto
Countess: Sofia Soloviy/Anett Fritsch
Count Almaviva: Luca Pisaroni/Andrey Bondarenko
Cherubino: Ellena Tsallagova/Lena Belkina
Marcellina: Helene Schneidermann
Bartola: Christophoros Stamboglis
Basilio: José Manuel Zapata
Barbarina: Khatouna Gadelia
Antonio: Miguel Sola
Don Curzio: Gerardo López


Production: Teatro Real in co-production with opera companies in Bilbao, Las Palmas and Vilnius
Direction: Emilio Sagi
Sets: Daniel Bianco
Costumes: Renata Schussheim
Lighting: Eduardo Bravo

This production features two different casts, and they should be considered as alternates since the price of seats was always the same. The performance of the second cast  ̶  in chronological terms  ̶  was superior to the first. In fact, three of the five main characters were better.

 The well-known stage production by Emilio Sagi remains one of his best works and is still going strong. I had the opportunity to review it earlier.

 The musical direction has always been the less impressive aspect of these performances. Things have improved with Ivor Bolton, although I had higher expectations. I’ve enjoyed Mr. Bolton’s conducting many times in the past, especially in the baroque and classical repertoire, but he fell short here. He lacked some spark, joy and vivacity. Under his baton, the orchestra was good, but we’ve heard better from them.

Baritone Andrea Wolf as Figaro left something to be desired. He was a surprising presence in this cast: his voice is notably lighter than Luca Pisaroni’s Count Almaviva. The second Figaro was the young Italian baritone Davide Luciano, who left a positive impression. He’s better suited to the character than Andrea Wolf, and he is quite promising.

Soprano Sylvia Schwartz was Susanna but her voice is too small. Susanna requires some middle range, and Ms. Schwartz’s is not enough. In the second cast, Eleonora Buratto was a remarkable Susanna. This young soprano has significantly broadened her center since the first time I heard her on stage in this theater more than two years ago. Today she is a very convincing Susanna.

Soprano Sofia Soloviy was back at Teatro Real after her debut last year in Alceste, where I did not find her very convincing. She showed more vocal affinity with the character of the Countess, but her timbre was not particularly attractive. Her voice is well managed, and she was good at “Dove sono” but rather indifferent at “Porgi amor.” Anett Fritsch made ​​a very convincing Countess. Her voice is more attractive than her colleague’s, and she is a great performer on stage, one who takes care with every detail of her interpretation.

Luca Pisaroni was back at Teatro Real after his great performance as Figaro in this production in 2009.His voice is much better suited to Figaro than to Count Almaviva. His diction and recitatives were exemplary, but he was too tight in his main aria. Andrey Bondarenko was a disappointing Count: his voice is good,but he’s a very monotonous and flat singer.

Elena Tsallagova was a good Cherubino, singing her two arias quite well and offering solid skills on stage. Lena Belkina in the second cast did not convince me.  Her voice is not important, and her singing is rather flat.

In the secondary characters one should note the fine performance by Helene Scneiderman as Marcellina. Christophoros Stamboglis was no more than correct as Don Bartolo. José Manuel Zapata was a fun Basilio and sang much better than what we are used to from this character, including the aria of the last act. The Barbarina of Khatouna Gadelia held little interest. Gerardo Lopez as Don Curzio was correct, and Miguel Sola’s Antonio was sonorous and fun.

 Teatro Real was almost sold out. The audience was particularly cold during the performances. At the end, there was a good reception but no enthusiasm.

José Mª Irurzun

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