OperaReviewSouth West

WNO: The Marriage of Figaro – Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Lorenzo Da Ponte
English translation: Jeremy Sams
Conductor: Lothar Koenigs
Director: Tobias Richter
Reviewer: Karen Bussell


WNO celebrates Beaumarchais’ money-loving, conniving rogue in its episodic spring tour Figaro Forever where Rossini and Mozart’s classics are joined by the world premiere of Langer’s sequel in which the scoundrel gets a divorce.

So second up is Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro directed by Tobias Richter sung in English with a colloquial – and somewhat colourful – book by Jeremy Sams and robust command of the ebullient WNO Orchestra by conductor Lothar Koenigs.

The overlong (three hours 25 minutes) romp is sound but rather two-dimensional and unmemorable.

Outstanding Anna Devlin is charismatic as Susanna with fine control of both her sweet soprano and the farce which unfolds on her wedding day while David Stout makes a solid Figaro with great comic timing but less of the scoundrel about him. Mezzo Naomi O’Connell, whose poignant Non so piu cosa son is a highlight, is hormonally-volatile adolescent Cherubino: cheeky but fails to convince as a chappie.

Mark Stone commands attention with his fine baritone as Count Almaviva played as a panto baddie almost willing the audience to hiss and boo his entrances however his ultimate reconciliation with the wronged Countess does not convince. Elizabeth Watts, who executes Rosina’s great arias with aplomb, makes a plaintive Rosina with just the odd spark of the fiery ward we met in Barber of Seville.

Bass Richard Wiegold is, as ever, mellifluous as an elderly Doctor Bartolo counterpointing nicely with Susan Bickley’s excellent Marcellina.

Alan Oke (seemingly channelling Jimmy Savile), Rhian Lois (an on point feisty Barbarina) and the tremendous chorus complete the line-up.

Sue Blane’s traditional and sumptuous costuming is at odds with Ralph Koltai’s modern and minimalist sets – huge screens adorned with very little (swashes of paint, batik pattern or metallic modernism) again allowing distracting sights of behind the scenes (and feet rolling the scenery into place).

Undoubtedly this is vocally very satisfying but instantly forgettable – there is just that je ne sais quoi missing.

Runs until 9 April 2016 | Image: WNO

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Sumptuous but forgettable

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