By choosing to perform The Marriage Of Figaro as a “staged concert”, director and conductor Iván Fischer playfully places the opera’s singers in and amongst the musicians, creating a delightful confection of informal exuberance and infectious delight that one can imagine Mozart himself wholeheartedly approving of. (Edinburgh Spotlight)
Things open with the acclaimed Budapest Festival Orchestra taking their positions beneath Györgyi Szakács’ sumptuous suspended period costumes. Then, as the overture begins, several figures leap from their seats, stripping off their formal attire and hurriedly transforming into the familiar characters of the much-loved opera.
This sets much of the tone for the rest of the performance, with the swapping of identities taking up so much of the story’s core. Clever use is made of the suspended costumes, which periodically descend to allow the characters to literally step into another persona.
Performances throughout are superb. The Budapest Festival Orchestra perform a flawless rendition of Mozart’s full four-act score, and the cast are uniformly excellent. If standouts must be highlighted, then Miah Persson’s Countess Almaviva provides some spine-tingling moments of vocal splendour, and Markus Werba as her wayward husband exudes oily scheming whilst turning in a performance of spotless clarity.
Hanno Muller-Brachmann’s Figaro and Sylvia Schwartz’s Susanna are accomplished and likable leads, though they are at risk of being constantly upstaged by the gloriously gleeful Cherubino, in a deliciously puckish performance by Rachel Fenkel.
Fischer himself is also a highlight. A spritely figure wielding a precision baton, he even interjects into proceedings at one point, whilst at several others conducts beneath a wig playfully popped on his head by one of the supporting cast.
Joyful and ebullient with first-rate performances throughout, this enjoyable production is the perfect marriage of music and theatre and engages from start to finish.