<< -- 3 -- David Thompson WAITING FOR FIGARO
As befits such music, the singers of Bampton opera are all fine ensemble
players, striking sparks off each other, and clearly enjoying the often
ridiculous fun of these pieces. Ilona Domnich and Betabée Haas relished
the wonderfully silly vocal rivalry in The Impresario, the swooning
portamenti of one's 'adagio, adagio!' vying with the other's
'allegro allegrissimo' with wonderful comic effect, and if this music was
on the very edge of what they found technically possible, then that is probably
the intended effect. I was reminded of Irving Berlin's take on this
idea in 'Anything you can do I can do better'. These ladies delighted later
in the more ingratiating writing accorded them in the other works.
Amanda Pitt is a real discovery; a fine singer and a wonderful comic
character actress. Cast as a student on work experience in the re-vamped
plot of The Impresario, she gave a delicious display of feminine
wiles and cunning in manipulating the hapless management to her own ends.
Her delightful and characterful assumption of Auretta in L'Oca
makes me keen to see what she would make of Susanna and Despina in full-blown
The men had less opportunity to show off musically, but they all contributed
well to a strong team, and, as I indicated, ensemble playing was the great
strength of this cast.
Calandrino (Mark Wilde) and Biondello (Benjamin Hulett) in 'Waiting for Figaro'. Photo © Gilly French
An alert period band produced some lovely sounds. I was particularly
taken with the mellifluous sounds of the 'authentic' clarinets. Small wonder
that Mozart was to have such a love affair with the instrument. A couple
more desks of strings would have provided a better overall balance, but
Edward Gardner's conducting was a model of Mozartian style throughout,
and gave much pleasure.
It is a long time since I relished an operatic experience so much, and
we must be deeply grateful to Bampton Opera for allowing us to hear and
see these pieces. I am now 'waiting for Figaro' to be performed again somewhere,
and when I go, I feel I will experience it with a deeper understanding of
the thought-processes that went into its creation.
Copyright © 20 September 2002
David Thompson, Eastwood, Essex, UK
BAMPTON CLASSICAL OPERA