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20 April 2014
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All change as Figaro is revived at Salzburg
by Silvia Luraghi
Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro
Salzburg Festival
17 August 2007

Photo: Monika RittershausThe only production from the all Mozart 2006 Salzburg Festival revived this year is Claus Guth's much acclaimed production of Le nozze di Figaro. Indeed, last summer the telecast of Figaro was seen by 1,500,000 people all over Austria, an enormous success for an opera telecast, according to Austrian television.

Of course, at that time Susanna was Anna Netrebko, whereas this year Diana Damrau took her turn in the role, reportedly with exciting results. Unfortunately, she had to cancel on 17 August due to a cold. In her place, young American soprano Jennifer O'Loughlin, who knew the production as she had been a cover for Netrebko in 2006, agreed to sing, thus making her Salzburg debut. O'Loughlin fit well into the ensemble, even if she sounded a little nervous at the beginning.

As her fiancé Figaro, Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni was probably the best on stage, vocally flawless, and with perfect diction. The latter could not be said of Gerald Finley, who, in the role of the Count, also did not look noble enough in his attempts to seduce Susanna. Dorothea Röschmann was one of the few singers that took part in last year's production, but as Countess Almaviva she did not leave any memorable impression. Soprano Martina Janková was a delightful Cherubino (in Jürgen Flimm's opinion, even better that Christine Schäfer, who had successfully sung the role in 2006).

The production by Claus Guth, with sets and costumes by Christian Schmidt, was simple and quite traditional. The most notable thing was a cherub, dressed in the same way as Cherubino, who, unseen, moved among the other characters directing their reciprocal relations and love affairs.

Another major difference from 2006 came in the pit. Last year, Nikolaus Harnoncourt worked in close contact with the stage director giving a melancholy reading of Mozart's masterpiece, with exceedingly slow tempi, and a deep feeling of sadness. This year, Daniel Harding conducted the Vienna Philharmonic with a much more traditional approach, bringing the piece back to its original genre of opera buffa. This remained perhaps at odds with the visual side of the production, but was apparently appreciated by the audience.

Photo: © Monika Rittershaus
Text: © Silvia Luraghi
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