[Met Performance] CID:327210
Le Nozze di Figaro {360} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/27/1997.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 27, 1997


LE NOZZE DI FIGARO {360}

Figaro..................James Morris
Susanna.................Barbara Bonney
Count Almaviva..........Michele Pertusi
Countess Almaviva.......Hei-Kyung Hong
Cherubino...............Dawn Upshaw
Dr. Bartolo.............Paul Plishka
Marcellina..............Judith Christin
Don Basilio.............Michel SÚnÚchal
Antonio.................Thomas Hammons
Barbarina...............Anita Johnson
Don Curzio..............Tony Stevenson

Conductor...............Leopold Hager

Production..............Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
Stage Director...............Robin Guarino
Designer................Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler

Review of Martin Mayer in Opera (UK)

"Figaro" on January 27 featured three Susannas on stage together - Barbara Bonney as the real thing, Hei-Kyung Hong moving to Countess, and Upshaw undertaking Cherubino, a role left sadly vacant by the retirement of Frederica von Stade. Not by accident, Upshaw coloured her voice to sound like Stade's, and she acted the role "comme it faut," though she may have snapped to attention and saluted a few times too often. Whether Upshaw can successfully work in this register remains for me an open question, for the voice has none of the huskiness that adds interest to the mezzo sound. But it was an impressive performance.

Hong's Countess is the result of years of work by management to get her to greet physical maturity with greater ambition. One can hear the argument that she could sing a gorgeous "Dove sono," which she did (the house, which loves her anyway, exploded with applause), and that her combination of dignity, beauty, comic instinct and intelligence would give this production the more complicated Countess that it clearly demands. That leaves "Porgi amor" with a tessitura a third lower than that of "Dove sono" (the range is the same, but not the tessitura) and a skip to A-flat from the middle of a lyric's "passaggio." And here it has to be sung from about 30 feet back of the proscenium, in that damned box Ponnelle left us. That wrong-footed Hong at the beginning, and created a question-mark over what was otherwise an entirely lovely performance - with a nice bit of added value, as she coloured her voice girlishly in the fourth act when, dressed as Susanna, she had to fend off Cherubino.

Bonney was a bright and saucy Susanna, matching the working-class Figaro that James Morris (after a timid "Se vuol ballare") acted and sang with casual perfection. Michele Pertusi, in a debut role, was a robust and aristocratic Count. Anita Johnson from the young artists' programme was a charming Barbarina. Paul Plishka had fun as a pretend-buffo Bartolo, Judith Christin was a properly aggressive Marcellina and Michel SÚnÚchal as always a sly Basilio. Leopold Hager led a mostly brisk but always handsome performance, conducting the singers more than is common here, and collaborated with Bonney in an exquisite "Deh vieni."



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