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<<  -- 2 --  David Thompson    WAITING FOR FIGARO


So poor old Bampton is fobbed off with Lo Sposo Deluso (The Deluded Bridegroom).

Nil desperandum! We'll get on with rehearsing that. And so The Deluded Bridegroom is brought to the stage, albeit in rehearsal. Fine. But there's another problem: four glorious musical numbers, (and they are), do not an opera make. But what's this at the bottom of the parcel? Yes, you've guessed: L' Oca del Cairo (The Cairo Goose). End of part 1. Rehearsal over, operatic politics as much resolved as may be, to the concluding numbers of The Impresario. Part 2: a fully-staged performance of The Cairo Goose. Result: a full evening of rare Mozart.

What we were given was much, much more than a tantalising series of Mozart's abandoned offcuts; we were treated to a rich and credible operatic entertainment, and a deep insight into the creative mind of a genius.

In the revised scenario, the producers and company are 'waiting for Figaro'. In his own creative 1780s development, Mozart was also waiting for Figaro, or, rather, the polished ingenuity of a Da Ponte libretto to liberate his greatest inspirations. In the meantime, though, in these miniatures and fragments, we can glimpse the detail of his period of gestation and experience the journey of his work in progress.

What stands out most of all is the marvel of Mozart's characterisation and ensemble writing, so manifest in Figaro itself, of course, but often raised to a comparable level in these little-known scores. The finale of this surviving act of L'Oca, for example, is a marvel of intricacy and interaction of character, and there are several character studies that can be readily identified in their later and finished perfection in the Da Ponte operas. The early duet of the lovers, Chichibio and Auretta in L'Oca has Figaro and Susanna written all over it in musical style and interaction of character. What a tragedy that Mozart never saw fit to complete this tantalising work, with such a brilliant and performable act already virtually finished in all but the details of orchestration. Here, Erik Smith's seamless reconstruction was used.

Auretta (Amanda Pitt) and Chichibio (Thomas Guthrie) in 'Waiting for Figaro'. Photo © Gilly French
Auretta (Amanda Pitt) and Chichibio (Thomas Guthrie) in 'Waiting for Figaro'. Photo © Gilly French

The four surviving pieces of Lo Sposo are equally fine in themselves, but, of course much more difficult to perform credibly on stage. The overture, conceived in the manner of that to Die Entführung (fast-slow-fast with a direct link into the first vocal number), is a marvellous piece, with an absolutely ravishing slow central section in triple time. Buried treasure indeed.

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Copyright © 20 September 2002 David Thompson, Eastwood, Essex, UK


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