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<<  -- 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 Da Ponte/Mozart.

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
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



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