|Le Nozze di Figaro:|
Neue Mozart-Ausgabe | Mozart Werke
Beginning on Saturday night, Washington National Opera will revive a production from Houston Grand Opera: it dates from 1988 but is still in use there, last being revived in 2005 and planned again for 2011. The production was created by Göran Järvefelt, a Swedish director who cut his teeth in the Drottningholms Slottsteater outside Stockholm, just before his sadly early death from cancer. We have written about Drottningholm before, a magical place for any musicologist or theater historian interested in 18th-century opera: it is also the setting of Ingmar Bergman's legendary film of The Magic Flute. The set designer, Carl Friedrich Oberle, drew his inspiration from some of the 18th-century sets found at Drottningholm. Harry Silverstein, who handled the stage direction of the production in Järvefelt's absence at Houston Opera, also directs here in Washington.
When it is staged at Washington National Opera the production will feature Teddy Tahu Rhodes, who was also Count Almaviva in the Houston production in 1998, so he presumably knows the staging well. Rhodes may have his limitations, but he combines a resonant voice with a natural stage presence. Soprano Virginia Tola, a favorite singer of Plácido Domingo's last under review as one of the better parts of WNO's Die Fledermaus in 2003, will be the Countess. She sang the role in 2008 in Valencia and seems attractive and capable. Ildar Abdrazakov will be the Figaro, and past experiences with his voice have been encouraging. I am most interested in hearing soprano Verónica Cangemi live after a few years of greatly admiring her work in recordings, including La fida ninfa and Griselda in Naïve's always impressive Vivaldi Edition. I don't know the voice of mezzo-soprano Michèle Losier, who is Cherubino in the first cast, but have heard good things, like her performance at the 2008 Queen Elisabeth Competition (although she did not win a prize there).
In the supporting cast are some local favorites sure to turn in charming performances, including Valeriano Lanchas as Bartolo and Robert Baker as Don Basilio. (My enthusiasm for this production, at the moment, extends only to the first cast, but we hope to have a report for you of the second cast later in the run.) Another wild card is the conducting of Patrick Fournillier, a journeyman at the podium who is starting to make some waves: more than one listener has admired his work leading performances of Cyrano with Domingo at La Scala. In the wake of his surgery this year, Domingo relinquished part of the run of WNO's production of Hamlet to Fournillier as well, a wise and welcome move, so we will have more opportunities to assess his conducting.
The first cast of Washington National Opera's production of Le Nozze di Figaro will perform in the Kennedy Center Opera House on April 24, 26, and 29 and May 2, 4, and 7.