Burlesque Le nozze di Figaro at Dala-Floda

10/08/2019

SwedenSweden Dala-Floda Operafest [2] – Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro: Soloists, Håkapellet (Ola Ottosson [piano], Jonas Lindgård [violin], Christian Sahlin [cello]). Björbo Opera House. Dala Floda, 5.8.2019. (GF)

Hannah Körner (Cherubin) and Anders Falbe (Count Almaviva) © Göran Forsling

Production:

Direction – Märit Bergvall
Costumes – Ilona Autio & Fredrik Ell
Sets – Anna Johansson

Cast:

Count Almaviva – Anders Falbe
Countess Rosina – Anna Hanning Häggström
Figaro – David Afzelius
Susanna – Evelina Stenvall
Cherubin – Hannah Körner
Marcellina – Vilma Skäryd
Barbarina – Karin Mobacke
Madame Bacille – Fabian Düberg
Bartolo – Erik Johansson
Antonia – Julia Andersson

Märit Bergvall has made a speciality of producing operas in chamber-size versions with simple accompaniments – often only a piano – relatively simple sets and sometimes with cuts. Last year’s Così fan tutte at Björbo was a good example. There the secco recitatives were replaced by spoken dialogue, easier to digest for audiences with limited experience of opera. She also seems to have a soft spot for transporting the action to other milieus than the original. This Figaro production is located on a pirate ship(!) instead of in Count Almaviva’s castle, although I really cannot see how this would make the play easier to understand. People jumping from windows – one of them is Cherubin  – fall into the water and celebrate weddings on board the ship. Quite absurd in my opinion. Don Basilio and Don Curzio, who are often played by the same tenor since they never appear simultaneously, are combined with a Madame Bacille, sung by a tenor. No objection. The gardener Antonio obviously had to stay on land and is replaced by Antonia, who is the ship’s cook. The story is basically the same as the original, based on Britt G. Hallqvist’s Swedish translation as modified by Märit Bergvall, who has also removed most of the recitatives and replaced them with spoken dialogue. The orchestra is reduced to a piano trio, which works well, and I am full of admiration for their stamina. The performance takes more than three hours, admittedly with a pause of twenty minutes in the middle, but it is still a tough job for these three fine musicians.

There are some cuts. The overture is truncated, but that is no great loss under the circumstances. What is more serious is that Figaro loses two of his three arias and is only allowed the well-known ‘Non più andrai’. But the other two are the most important if one wants to retain the revolutionary importance of the opera: the lower classes’ opposition to the nobility. Interestingly Don Basilio is allowed his aria in the last act, a piece that is frequently cut in live performances.

It is also a pity that Märit Bergvall demands a rather burlesque style of acting of the performers. It is a coarse style, which Mozart would have hardly accepted – rough and blunt. When Susanna slaps Figaro in the face it is a wallop that floors him, to name just one example, and generally Susanna is a rather vulgar character in this production. Moreover, all the characters are crude. There are two exceptions: Anna Hanning Häggström’s Countess is as noble and sad as she should be and her two arias are lyrical highlights; and Karin Mobacke’s Barbarina is also free of exaggerations. It is a small role but she makes the most of it with small means, sings beautifully, acts charmingly and her face comes alive. For me those few moments were the most attractive of the entire performance.

However, I am not implying that the rest of the ensemble is not good. Just as with last year’s Così fan tutte I was greatly impressed by the acting within the concept that the director opted for. The greatest was no doubt offered by the dynamic Count Almaviva of Anders Falbe – and his dark-hued and powerful bass-baritone made him a truly dangerous Count. In the last act the magic moment when the Countess steps out of her hiding-place and reveals him as a notorious skirt-chaser and he, full of shame, begs her forgiveness, time stands still. Hannah Körner’s superb body-language as the hormone-laden Cherubin was also masterful. But everyone else was convincing as well, and for those who accepted the somewhat vulgarized concept – which most of those present apparently did – this was an enjoyable performance.

Göran Forsling

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! The Leeds Lieder Concert Series 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anjali Dance Company Genius UK Tour 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Opera in 2019-2020 and New Artistic Director __________________________________
  • UPDATED! ENB in 2019-2020 and Opening of their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Carnegie Hall 2019-2020 Season Highlights __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet’s 70th Anniversary Gala Performances – 17 & 18 January 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Martin Yates and RSNO to give world premiere of The Future by Ralph Vaughan Williams __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR HERVÉ NIQUET INTERVIEWED ABOUT GRÉTRY’S RICHARD, COEUR DE LION __________________________________
  • NEW! Abay Kazakh State Opera and Ballet Theatre at the London Coliseum on 17 November __________________________________
  • NEW! Highgate International Chamber Music Festival’s Beethoven 249 in November __________________________________
  • NEW! SOPRANO ANGELA GHEORGHIU IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NOW REVIEWED! MATTHEW BOURNE’S ROMEO AND JULIET IN CINEMAS FROM 22 OCTOBER __________________________________
  • NEW! CELLIST JOHANNES MOSER IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • CHORUS MASTER STEPHEN DOUGHTY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • REVIEWED! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • MULTI-FACETED MUSICIAN JOY LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • ‘MUSICAL MAGIC’: AN INTERVIEW WITH VIOLINIST HENNING KRAGGERUD __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month