OPERA / Air and graces: Nick Kimberley on Midsummer Opera's Marriage of Figaro in an Ealing garden
Saturday 16 July 1994
And then Gwion Thomas emerges in period costume and the imagination fires. Suddenly we have theatre. As Thomas's Figaro and Kathleen Tynan's pert, slightly tart (not tarty) Susannah offer rather different views of a servant's duty, Ealing retreats. We may not be in Seville, but we are immediately engaged by this young couple's fight for the sanctity of their imminent marriage. That the audience involves itself so readily is thanks in no small part to Amanda Holden's imaginative translation, delivered with absolute clarity.
Alan Privett's production, in Paul Wilkins' designs, ties itself in a few unnecessary knots trying to imitate Fragonard's paintings, with pictures in frames littered everywhere. But at least the frames provided perspectives and vistas, economical divisions of the acting space. Oddly, the setting worked least well in the garden scene, although by then the fading light had added its own ambience.
The score suffered cuts but they mattered little. Nor, in context, did the loss of so much of the orchestra. After the overture's cruel exposure, balance improved as the voices added their weight. The slimline instrumentation allowed the singers greater opportunities, and they made the most of the chance to communicate in detail rather than in general outline.
Thomas's Figaro is venomously cunning, although the enunciation is a shade too fastidious, lieder-fashion. The weight of the voice is well-matched to Josik Koc's Count, a bundle of repressed sexual energy whose whole body becomes erect at the merest hint of sexual dalliance. An open-air acoustic does few favours for bel canto, and dramatic and musical inspiration flags during the final act. In the end, there are limits to what such a presentation can achieve, and Midsummer Opera may have reached those limits - the company is considering going indoors permanently. Yet blessed with a balmy evening, an eager cast and a willing audience, this Figaro went some way to dispelling the suspicion that these events can only ever be charming.
Last performance tonight at 90, Grange Road, London W5 (Booking: 081-579 7477)
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?
- 2 London council removes 'unacceptable' Stamford Hill posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan in new celebrity hacking attack weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 Matthew Miller: American sentenced to hard labour in North Korea 'wanted to be Snowden II'
- 5 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea's 'Booty' music video is just a load of butts
Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written
Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Friends 20th anniversary: Six things we wouldn't have without influential comedy series
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'