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Journalistic responsibility requires me to refer to the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s presentation of Mozart’s “Nozze di Figaro” at the Rose Theater as a “staged concert performance.” This is the official description from the presenter, the Mostly Mozart Festival, and the orchestra’s esteemed founding conductor, Ivan Fischer, who also directed this highly anticipated event (nytimes.com)

But when a staged concert performance involves an insightful dramatic take on a complex opera, charming costumes, ingeniously simple yet evocative sets, and a cast of appealing singers who work together like the actors of a repertory theater company, I call that a production. A remarkable production, which opened on Sunday.

First, though, I must say that the musical performance on its own terms was extraordinary. Over the last 30 years under Mr. Fischer, the Budapest Festival Orchestra has become one of the most admired ensembles on the international scene, as was demonstrated on Sunday by this supple, glowing and transparent performance of “Figaro.” Mozart’s familiar score emerged with utter naturalness. Mr. Fischer’s tempos, over all, were somewhat slower than has become common in this work. But the reined-in pacing allowed the orchestra to play with fresh detail and expressive depth. Even during exchanges of recitative, the singers took time to bring out the shades of confusion, intrigue and silliness in the libretto.

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