An Attractive but Ultimately Disappointing Marriage of Figaro in Berlin

Le Nozze di Figaro (c) Bettina Stöß

GermanyGermany Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro: Deutsche Oper Orchestra and Chorus, Yves Abel (conductor), Deutsche Oper Berlin, 8.10.2015 (JMI)   

Mozart, Le Nozze di Figaro


Direction: Götz Friedrich

Sets and Costumes: Herbert Wernicke


Figaro: Marco Mimica
Susanna: Elena Tsallagova
Countess: Federica Lombardi
Count: John Chest
Cherubino: Irene Roberts
Marcellina: Ronnita Miller
Don Bartolo: Stephen Bronk
Don Basilio: Burkhard Ulrich
Barbarina: Adriana Ferfezka
Antonio: Andrew Harris
Don Curzio: Gideon Poppe

This production by the former director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Götz Friedrich, had its premiere in 1978. It’s a traditional staging with beautiful sets and costumes by the late Herbert Wernicke, whose work was always very elegant. The direction emphasizes the buffo aspect of the opera but goes too far, as if this were a performance for young people. The characters of Bartolo, Basilio, Marcellina and even the Count are pure caricature, which appears to have as its sole purpose provoking laughter in the audience. The arias of Marcellina and Basilio in the fourth act that are traditionally cut are included here which unnecessarily prolongs the performance. I’ve always thought that these arias should only be offered when there are superb singers, and this was not the case.

Yves Abel’s conducting was effective. His tempi were correct and lively, and he always supported the singers. Under his baton the orchestra was good but not truly excellent.

Croatian bass baritone Marco Mimica gave life to Figaro. I’ve had the opportunity of seeing him in the past in minor roles but nothing as important as Figaro. His voice is wide and not outstanding, and it can work in a different repertoire, but he has a long way to go to succeed as the protagonist of a Mozart opera. Russian soprano Elena Tsallagova was good as Susanna. Her voice is appealing but a little too light in the middle range, and she sounds at times like a soubrette.

The best in the cast was Italian soprano Federica Lombardi as the Countess. She recently sang the part successfully in Como. She has an attractive voice, appropriate for the role, and handled her two arias brilliantly. Ms. Lombardi could have a bright future in this repertoire.

American baritone John Chest was a modest Count Almaviva. He doesn’t exhibit a lot of authority either vocally or on stage, and has the disadvantage that his voice is reduced in the middle and weak at the bottom.

Beginning this season, American mezzo soprano Irene Roberts has joined the Deutsche Oper ensemble. Her Cherubino was fine, if not particularly bright. Ronnita Miller was a powerful Marcellina, as evidenced in the aria “Il capro è la capretta.”

Stephen Bronk was a modest Don Bartolo. The same can be said of Burkhard Ullrich as Basilio, who took refuge in pure parlando, especially in Act I. Andrew Harris was a serviceable Antonio, and so was Gideon Poppe as Don Curzio. Adriana Ferfezka as Barbarina left a positive impression.

José M. Irurzun

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