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What was especially satisfying was the way extended instrumental sequences, from the latter stages of the overture to the great twenty four minute final dénouement -- were constructed with thoughtfulness and insight, the orchestra revealing, both individually and en masse, a beguiling range of dynamics and gradations, from a subtle undertone to a blazing fortissimo climax.
'Armonico's production will be fast-moving, pacy, sexy and funny. It will be a great, great night at the theatre', says director Michael McCaffery. And Mozart and Da Ponte do indeed constitute a great night at the theatre; but possibly not this (purportedly) 1950s, Gosford Park/Upstairs-Downstairs staging. Such a claim would require a finer observation and period sense; this production came near, in places, to plodding.
Katie Bird as the Countess
Not so the voices. The best numbers included both the Countess's arias (Katie Bird, delightfully attired and a lovely voice with a beauty all its own and an attractive consistency to the vibrato); the Count's great vengeance monologue at the start of Act III (Simon Thorpe: this was one of the most compelling bits of Michael McCaffery's variable staging, with Almaviva dining alone, invoking shades of Don Giovanni both visually and musically); and Susanna's touching solo in the finale (the beautifully clear Joanna Boag: her Susanna-Almaviva duet with Thorpe was arguably the best-balanced ensemble of the evening: almost like listening to one voice at two pitches).
Copyright © 29 January 2008
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK