Noilly Prattle: The Best “Figaro”--so far.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Best “Figaro”--so far.

Contessa perdono - The Marriage of Figaro

Jan Chalupecky

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro is one of the best known and best loved operas in the repertory, the result of the brilliant collaboration of Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. It is crammed with pithy humor, emotions that are universally felt and understood across cultures and some of the most beautiful music ever written in my opinion. The pacing of the action, in terms of theatrics, is near perfect—never a dull tedious moment.

Frantisek Zahrandnicek
This Figaro, presented Friday evening, February 3, 2012 at the Theater of the Estates in Prague, was the most enjoyable production that I have seen so far, bar none (and I've seen quite a few). Right from the opening notes of the Overture by conductor Jan Chalupecky you could tell that you were in for an auditory feast: crisp, clear, vibrant and pure Mozart. A moment of doubt crept in with Figaro's opening lines measuring the size of his marriage bed to see if would fit the room. The baritone, Frantisek Zahrandnicek, was not quite sharp and forceful enough, maybe a little off the beat. In fact, he was the weakest link, along with the mezo-soprano who played Cherubino, Stanislava Jirku, in an otherwise superbly cast production. Weak link doesn't mean poor quality singers, just not as WOW as the rest of the cast.  

Stanislava Jirku
The sopranos who sang the Countess Almaviva (Marie Fajtoka) and Suzanna (Jana Kacirkova) were pure ear candy—probably two of the finest interpretations of those roles I have so far listened to.

Marie Fajtoka
We had a box entirely to ourselves with an excellent view of the stage and total privacy. So, I surreptitiously (bad boy doing a no-no) tried a couple of videos. The audio quality doesn't do justice to the beautiful voices, but I put up a link to YouTube above anyway. And so the house prohibition against making recordings wins.

The baritone who played the Count Almaviva (the same Martin Barta I raved about in the role of Rigoletto recently) was extraordinary in the closing lines of the opera where he begs forgiveness (see YouTube clip) for his philandering transgressions and neglect of his unhappy wife, the Countess. Her notes of forgiveness along with her perfect delivery seemed celestially inspired—divine forgiveness shall we say.
Martin Barta

Jana Kacirkova
The SO and I were almost literally walking on air, cold as it was, on our way back home. Sharing a midnight snack we found ourselves burbling the usual adjectives and superlatives, which are becoming the norm after each performance. I jokingly said, biting into my peanut butter on toast, that we are beginning to sound like broken records. Perhaps it is my fate to be iconoclastic. 

private box with good view of stage

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