Count Almaviva..........Dwayne Croft
Countess Almaviva.......Renée Fleming
Dr. Bartolo.............Paul Plishka
Don Basilio.............Heinz Zednik
Barbarina...............Danielle de Niese
The Metropolitan Opera has rerun free of charge the 1998 telecast of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. I would have seen the original, of course. It was in the center of my infatuation with Cecilia Bartoli. Watching it again I find that it is a Figaro for the ages. There is not even the tiniest hole in this cast. Even Barbarina features Danielle de Niese making her Met debut at 19.
This opera features the Countess in two glorious arias-- Porgi Amor and Dove sono--sung gloriously by Renée Fleming.
This film still has the most hits for Cecilia Bartoli on YouTube and the second most for Fleming.
The Met cast Bartoli into more or less the same Fach as Kathleen Battle only with a comic slant. In her career she was known for her very successful coloratura singing, and this provides the explanation for the replacement of Deh vieni non tardar, an entirely legato aria, with something with at least some coloratura.
Bryn is perhaps my all time favorite Figaro, and Cecilia and Bryn's flirting is the best ever seen in this opera.
The last time I watched it I wrote this:
It was a surprise when it was announced that Cecilia would sing the
role of Susanna, a role I don’t think she has sung since. There was a
huge scandal because she insisted on performing different arias. I know
“Un moto di gioia” is one of her favorites. Her choices, especially
the final aria, are very successful, but she does not sing “Deh vieni
I have felt since I first saw this film
that I never really understood this opera before. In a world where
everything had to be about status and privilege, where the operas were
clearly divided between elevated moral dramas about the upper classes
and comedies in dialect from the lower classes, Mozart has brought us
real people from all the various classes of his era, people with serious
problems, people like us. I don’t think I really understood how deeply
serious Figaro really is.
Cecilia is key in the
success of this entire performance because she makes you feel how much
Susanna loves Figaro and how much she hates the idea of sex with the
count, how much she loathes his attentions while successfully masking
her emotions from him. This is the content of the Marriage of Figaro, not just the jokes. I have read the book this is based on, but it is Mozart and da Ponte who give true life to these people.
is a wonderful rapport between Cecilia and Bryn which they exploited in
a duet album and dvd. This rapport is at its best here. They are
exciting and very charismatic together.
As if this were
not wonderful enough, there is also the fabulous countess of Renée
Fleming, who needs only to sit around being miserably regal while
singing two of the most gorgeous arias ever written. Gorgeously. She
is in top form.
It is a succession of perfectly
executed scenes by ideally cast singing actors. When was Figaro’s
discovery of his parents ever so perfect? The count and countess are
effectively upper class while Susanna and Figaro are common, as it
should be. The entire production is pure perfection in singing,
conducting and ensemble acting, and never becomes stale.
As one who has long adored Cecilia and has seen a lot of her stage work, this is her masterpiece.