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Festival Figaro

countess.jpg

A few days ago we caught the opening night of Figaro in which Ivan Fischer conducted the Budapest Festival Orchestra and directed a fine cast of singers: we were expecting a concert performance but actually this was an innovative "staged concert", with playful comedy and intelligent supra-titles. Hugh Canning (Sunday Times) was later very dismissive of the "rudimentary production" and "ugly costumes" but I disagree with him. Fischer placed the orchestra on-stage, instead of in a pit. By involving himself and the instrumentalists in the action, he fused music with drama. As he said "Mozart's music is extremely theatrical and his theatre is extremely musical"

The plot of Figaro is full of mutations (gender, countess to maid, boy to soldier) and implausible changes of costume and identity. Mozart operas are normally played po-faced, but this was a brilliant reminder that "opera buffa" is meant to be funny. I don't remember audience laughter-out-loud in any previous Figaro, and this production felt authentic. The orchestra and singers were splendid, with a specially memorable countess in Miah Persson (photo courtesy of www.wsj.com).

And tonight we have just enjoyed the Budapest Festival Orchestra again playing Mozart's Requiem. Miah Persson starred again as the soprano soloist and the Edinburgh Festival Chorus were magnificent. The range of styles in his final masterpiece is extraordinary, ranging from old-school vocal counterpoint and fugue (Kyrie eleison) to the more operatic treatment of Dies irae and the lyrical Benedictus. It was a convincing demonstration that this orchestra does serious Mozart extremely well, too.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 18, 2015 9:46 PM.

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