[Met Performance] CID:331093
New Production
Le Nozze di Figaro {368} Metropolitan Opera House: 10/29/1998.

(Debuts: Danielle de Niese, Jennifer Welch-Babidge, Andrea Trebnik, James Acheson, Mark McCullough, Terry John Bates

Metropolitan Opera House
October 29, 1998
New Production

Mozart-Da Ponte

Figaro..................Bryn Terfel
Susanna.................Cecilia Bartoli
Count Almaviva..........Dwayne Croft
Countess Almaviva.......Renée Fleming
Cherubino...............Susanne Mentzer
Dr. Bartolo.............Paul Plishka
Marcellina..............Wendy White
Don Basilio.............Heinz Zednik
Antonio.................Thomas Hammons
Barbarina...............Danielle de Niese [Debut]
Don Curzio..............Anthony Laciura
Bridesmaid..............Jennifer Welch-Babidge [Debut]
Bridesmaid..............Andrea Trebnik [Debut]

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

Production..............Jonathan Miller
Set designer............Peter J. Davison
Costume designer........James Acheson [Debut]
Lighting designer.......Mark McCullough [Debut]
Choreographer...........Terry John Bates [Debut]

Alternate Arias for Susanna

For the performances of Le Nozze di Figaro on November 3, 7 and 11, Cecilia Bartoli sang different arias from those usually assigned to Susanna. Mozart's opera premiered in Vienna at the Burgtheater on May 1, 1786, with the English soprano Nancy Storace as Susanna, and included two arias for her, "Venite inginocchiatevi" in Act II, and "Deh vieni non tardar" in Act IV. These are the arias that Miss Bartoli sang at the October 29 premiere of the Met's new production of Le Nozze di Figaro and at the performances of November 14 afternoon, 18, 21, and 24.

For the Vienna revival of Le Nozze di Figaro in 1789, Mozart wrote two new arias for Adriana Ferrarese del Bene, who took the role of Susanna in those performances and replaced the original arias with the new ones. Ferrarese del Bene was a virtuoso singer with a wide range, who would later become the first Fiordiligi in Così Fan Tutte. It was at this revival that Le Nozze di Figaro became a real success in Vienna, playing for 26 performances. The strophic arietta "Un moto di gioia" took the place of the original Act II aria, and "Al desio," a rondo, replaced Susanna's Act IV aria. These are the arias that Miss Bartoli sang in the Met performances on November 3, 7, and 11.

This production of Le Nozze di Figaro was the first opportunity for Met audiences to hear the alternate arias for Susanna in the context of a full performance of the opera.

Le Nozze di Figaro received twelve performances this season.

Production gift of Alberto W. Vilar

Review of Martin Bernheimer in Opera (UK)

The big event of the season, thus far, was the new production of "Le Nozze di Figaro," which opened on October 29 (this, it could he noted, was only the Met's 368th performance of Mozart's masterpiece). The cast, led by Bryn Terfel in the title role, was stellar in depth. The hand-me-down staging came courtesy of none less than Jonathan Miller and indirectly from the Vienna Staatsoper. But, for better or worse (probably worse), the centre of attention was Cecilia Bartoli.

Having made her Met debut as an adorably tough, street-urchin Despina two seasons ago, and having returned as a gutsy-waif Cenerentola last year, Bartoli decided to play the Mozartian waif her way. That way involved a lot of rough, harsh tone, a great deal of robust and restless physical humour, endless mugging -vocal as well as facial - and unashamed vulgarity that permitted her to grind a heel into Figaro's crotch when he was down in Act 4. So much for traditional sweetness and charm. At the first performance she sang the customary edition of the score, and the high tessitura posed no particular strain for her dusky mezzo-soprano. However, at the next three performances (which formed the basis of the forthcoming video and television presentations) she foreswore the bustling "Venite inginocchiatevi" and the sublime "Deh vieni, non tardar" in favour of the showpieces Mozart provided for Adriana Ferraresi in the Vienna production of 1789. Everyone applauded Bartoli's virtuosity, but some observers - the producer reportedly among them - lamented the substitution of egocentric agitation for magical serenity in what used to be the garden scene (here, as designed by Peter Davison, something of a Baroque concrete jungle).

Miller's rather absent-minded production stressed the corruption of a decaying aristocracy without paying much obvious attention to niceties of characterization or unity of perspective. Under the circumstances, one had to admire isolated achievements: Terfel's hearty, extrovert Figaro, Renee Fleming's exquisitely sad Countess, Dwayne Croft's grandly befuddled Count, Susanne Mentzer's puppydog-cute Cherubino, Paul Plishka's big and bluff Bartolo, Heinz Zednik's cannily effete Basilio and Wendy White's gently understated Marcellina. (The last two had to make their mark with their arias cut, as usual.)

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