OPERA NEWS - Le Nozze di Figaro
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In Review > North America

Le Nozze di Figaro

San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera’s summer production of The Marriage of Figaro, as it was billed (seen June 14), may have cast aside its original Italian title, but this handsomely staged, ebulliently sung revival was in other respects the genuine article. With Patrick Summers leading a crisply assured reading in the pit, the humor, pathos, and brilliant color of Mozart’s score came across in a sparkling, well-calibrated performance.

Zack Brown’s production, inspired by Goya and introduced here in 1982, remains one of the company’s most reliable constructions, conjuring the warmth and opulence of eighteenth-century Seville in Count Almaviva’s villa. Act I’s spacious interiors, Act II’s ivy-covered walls and lacy iron gates, and Act IV’s well-tended moonlit garden serve attractively at every turn. Director Robin Guarino, making her company debut, staged the action effectively and with insight; nothing was overplayed, but Guarino kept the action moving in a steady flow and enlivened each successive scene.

This revival boasted a spirited, youthful cast, one that was slightly dominated by the men, beginning with Philippe Sly’s nimble, resourceful Figaro. His attractive, flexible bass-baritone is a shade small for the role in a house of this size, but Sly acted with assurance, sounded secure in the ensembles and delivered his arias with vigor: “Se vuol ballare” came across with plenty of bite, and “Aprite un po’” was riveting. Luca Pisaroni’s limber, large-voiced Count was a marvel. His resonant bass-baritone is well-placed and firm throughout his range, and he delivered Mozart’s writing like well-lubricated clockwork. His Count is less threatening, and slightly more thick, than some, and he combined the role’s freewheeling libido and imperious manner in a performance of considerable comic brilliance.

As Susanna, Lisette Oropesa sang with alluring wit, intelligence, and secure top notes. Nadine Sierra’s Countess missed the role's wonted luxuriant, creamy tone, but she sang with vivacity, projected beautifully, and summoned the character's mix of insecurity and longing. As Cherubino, Kate Lindsey’s smallish mezzo tended to fade in the ensembles, but she brought the page’s hormonal agonies winningly to the fore and delivered “Voi che sapete” with plenty of charm. John Del Carlo and Catherine Cook — San Francisco Opera’s go-to artists in the roles of Bartolo and Marcellina, respectively — once again demonstrated their mastery in these roles; Greg Fedderly’s insinuating Basilio and John Easterlin’s Curzio were ideal. Maria Valdes gave a bright account of Barbarina’s aria, and Bojan Knežević made a small feast of the role of the drunken gardener, Antonio. Summers brought all the strands together in the glorious final scene, where Ian Robertson’s chorus sounded sublime. —Georgia Rowe

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