[Met Performance] CID:286160
Le Nozze di Figaro {293} Metropolitan Opera House: 10/9/1986.

(Debuts: Thomas Hampson, Ugo Benelli
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
October 9, 1986


LE NOZZE DI FIGARO {293}
Mozart-Da Ponte

Figaro..................José Van Dam
Susanna.................Kathleen Battle
Count Almaviva..........Thomas Hampson [Debut]
Countess Almaviva.......Elisabeth Söderström
Cherubino...............Frederica von Stade
Dr. Bartolo.............Paolo Montarsolo
Marcellina..............Loretta Di Franco
Don Basilio.............Ugo Benelli [Debut]
Antonio.................James Courtney
Barbarina...............Hei-Kyung Hong
Don Curzio..............Andrea Velis

Conductor...............James Levine

Production..............Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
Designer................Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler

Le Nozze di Figaro received eleven performances this season.


Review of Bill Zakariasen in the New York Daily News

Computer Colorization of old black-and-white movies is a controversial subject nowadays, but there should be no argument about an operatic production at the Metropolitan Opera that really needs it-Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's color-blind vision of Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro," which came back like the proverbial bad penny into repertory Thursday night.

To be fair, "Figaro" enjoyed a few improvements this time. The performance was superior in most facets, while Ponnelle's direction (if hardly his sets) exhibited some new hues commensurate with Mozart's uniquely humanistic comedy.

The staging now accents humor more than revolutionary tub-thumping, while Ponnelle has made such fortunate amendations as allowing the Countess' [first] soliloquy to be sung alone, not with Susanna eavesdropping upon it.

Ponnelle has also clarified ensemble movements-most noticeably in the Act II finale-and he has simplified some costuming as well. Example: the Count no longer must sing his difficult third-act aria encumbered by an oversized robe and a Louis XIV periwig, though the fact that he now resembles George Washington implies Ponnelle these days has another revolution on his mind.

In the largely new cast, soprano Elisabeth Söderström proved a revelation as the Countess. Her age (she's pushing 60) occasionally betrayed itself in some tonal flutter, but her phrasing was a model of Mozartean style and her interpretation-heartbreaking or witty as required-made witnessing her portrayal a mandatory experience.

Debuting baritone Thomas Hampson was outstanding as the Count-he's very tall and handsome, a fine actor, and his good-sized voice was handled with an adroit technique that made child's play of the role's demands.

As Figaro, baritone Jose van Dam sang capitally and played the part with the appropriate peasant-like humor. Tenor Ugo Benelli debuted successfully as the unctuous Don Basilio, bass Paolo Montarsolo was a solid Bartolo, and repeat performers including Kathleen Battle (Susanna), Frederica von Stade (Cheribino), Andrea Veils (Don Curzio) and Loretta Di Franco (Marcellina) were up to par or better. James Levine was the ebullient conductor.



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