The Marriage of Figaro with Cecilia Bartoli and Bryn Terfel has long been my favorite. I loved the emotional rapport between them as a couple, and I felt very much a compatibility between the open earthiness of Bartoli, indeed of both of them and the roles they were portraying. I felt the vividness of the duke's assault as I had not done before. I felt love, jealousy, enjoyment as I had not done before.
So this Figaro with Anna Netrebko is rather a shock. I think Anna projects an entirely different kind of sexual energy than Cecilia. Behind Anna's dark smile anything could be lurking. She seems capable of any treachery or passion. Where Cecilia is loving and sensual, Anna is truly ambiguous. Is she betraying Figaro or not? Does she kiss the duke with love or loathing? Is she teasing Figaro in "Deh vieni" or not?
Anna may well be the better actress. Cecilia projects her own warmth to a truly remarkable degree. Anna reflects her vision. She is projecting the darkness and ambiguity of the production.