Le Nozze di Figaro
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In Review > North America

Le Nozze di Figaro

PRINCETON, NJ
Princeton Festival
6/28/15

THE PRINCETON FESTIVAL's winning production of Le Nozze di Figaro (June 28) boasted a vigorous orchestra, attractive costumes, a gorgeous set, and traditional staging energized by a talented company. It also had the good fortune to land in the 1,100-seat McCarter Theatre, the perfectly sized venue for this intimate comedy. With his imposing height and spontaneity as an actor, Sean Anderson’s Count dominated the action. Anderson was much more than a leering predator and a philandering husband—he seemed constantly on the verge of losing his sense of self-worth. By letting us see the Count’s vulnerability early on, his final plea for the Countess’s forgiveness felt prepared, and there was no question it was sincere. Rather than bend the knee formally, he sank to the floor like a defeated little boy who finally understands the gift he’s squandered. Jonathan Lasch was a perfect foil as Figaro: playful, down-to-earth, limber, and good-natured. Ideally cast, both baritones offered smooth, flexible, resonant voices that were expressive and in full command of their material. 

Haeran Hong made a winsome Susanna, more sweet than spirited, but still capable of asserting herself when necessary. Her smooth, satiny soprano soared over the top of the ensembles, and she delivered an exquisite and touching “Deh, vieni.” Katherine Whyte was both girlish and dignified as the Countess, informing every phrase with emotional intent. The runs to high C in “Susanna, or via sortite,” usually tossed off, became her only weapons against her increasingly violent husband. Cassandra Zoé Velasco’s Cherubino was a treat. She was utterly convincing as a teenaged boy, and she sang with a meltingly lovely mezzo. With a fear of mirrors that was both funny and poignant, Kathryn Krasovec mined an uncharacteristic vein of sadness in Marcellina, embracing her newfound maternal role with a palpable sense of relief. Ricardo Lugo was more put-upon than usual as Bartolo, using his low notes to assert his power. David Kellett’s Don Basilio was a delightfully fussy troublemaker, relishing every bit of intrigue, while Vincent DiPeri made a funny bit of curtailing his stutter with his gavel as Don Curzio. Paul An burst onto the scene as Antonio, in a portrayal that was more frenetic than drunk, quite funny and well sung. As the flirtatious Barbarina, Jessica Beebe established her blond, rosy presence in the first act and sealed the deal with a honey-colored “L’ho perduta.”

Under Steven LaCosse’s direction, the ensembles crackled with dramatic tension, and arias sung to another character became scenes, with the active participation of the other person. There were occasional careless moments (Why did Cherubino kneel before Susanna instructed him to?), but also many funny touches, like Susanna and the Countess keeping Cherubino from manspreading when they dressed him as a girl. Conductor and festival artistic director Richard Tang Yuk kept tight control on the musical end, and when the singers’ excitement led them to rush, his steadiness brought them right back where they belonged.  —Joanne Sydney Lessner 

 

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