Magazine article Musical Opinion

Royal Academy Opera's le Nozze Di Figaro

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Royal Academy Opera's le Nozze Di Figaro

Article excerpt

There is no shortage of directorial young Turks, eager to impose their own concepts on operatic masterpieces, but it is vital for young singers to become familiar with these works in the style the composer intended. This was the invaluable opportunity provided by the experienced Director John Copley and great musician Sir Colin Davis, who teamed up to work with the students of Royal Academy Opera on Le nozze di Figaro, following their previous collaboration on other Mozart operas.

From the opening bars of the Overture, fleetly dispatched by the Royal Academy Sinfonia, and with lovely instrumental detail, it was apparent how much the players had benefited from Sir Colin's coaching. Moreover, he seemed to have instilled such confidence into his cast that there were moments when certain singers thought they knew best and parted company with his beat!

Where there is a wealth of talent available, it is customary for student productions to field two different casts at alternate performances. On the opening night, 12 November, the changeover of the two principal couples took place after the Second Act, while two Cherubinos alternated Acts to give each one an aria to sing. The result was to turn the performance into a musical exercise, precluding little possibility of character development, which must have been frustrating to the singers.

It did not, however, detract from the impeccable detail of Copley's direction, scrupulously based on Lorenzo da Ponte's libretto and faithful to 18th-Century style, with the help of Prue Handley's handsome costumes and Tim Reed's simple but adaptable set to conjure up the gracious interior and the even more satisfying garden of the Almaviva's country house, as lit by Geraint Pughe. …

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