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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Marriage of Figaro, ENO

Some things work, others don’t in Fiona Shaw’s new production of The Marriage of Figaro at the ENO. The set is not to my taste, a modern white labyrinth structure that looks just too temporary. The endlessly revolving centre of the stage muddles the action rather than enhancing it. Furthermore I was confused about the period in which Shaw sets the opera, the set is overwhelmingly modern and yet the costumes seem to suggest the 18th century.

I did feel sorry for the ENO on the night, with the last minute illness of Kate Valentine (playing the Countess) they had to find a very fast replacement and Elizabeth Llewellyn rose to the challenge with impeccable style and stamina joining the cast and fitting in remarkably. Llewellyn is a brilliant actress and competent singer and they were incredibly lucky to get her, she gave a stand out performance.

This is not my favourite of the Mozart operas, it is lengthy and drags a little, nonetheless there are numerous toe tapping tunes. Iain Paterson is thrilling as Figaro giving a humorous rendition of the title role, and proves himself to be a competent actor as well as being vocally brilliant. Devon Guthrie as the much desired Susanna looks and sounds the part and interacts beautifully with Paterson. My favourite performance of the night was Katryn Rudge as the petite Cherubino, Rudge has a gorgeously bright and spritely voice and suits the cheeky role perfectly.

Conductor, and former ENO Music Director, Paul Daniels leads the orchestra through this frantic score with a firm but expressive hand, and the players respond well.

After seeing the ENO’s spectacular productions of The Passenger and Elixir of Love I was expecting a lot from this Mozart classic, but I must admit, I left feeling a little disappointed.

Visit ENO website and book tickets here.

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