Back in 2011, I covered the Proms performance of just this production. The review was published here. Now the same production surfaces again, in an August 2012 performance. The Overture, here in the home setting of Glyndebourne, sparkles and explodes. As so often these days, the characters interact silently while the Overture is played - and in the Blu-Ray/DVD issue, credits roll for the characters. A sports car, a Bugatti I believe, arrives onstage driven by Figaro and carrying the Countess. From the model of car and the characters' costumes, we are in the ’Sixties. Where better for such sexual intrigue as Figaro provides? Act 3 finds the Count and Susanna smoking something that definitely has a mellowing effect, shall we say. Musically, their duet here is of the highest standard - no pun intended. Michael Grandage is the director of this, the seventh different production at Glyndebourne; Christopher Oram provides the Moorish sets.
Glyndebourne's revolving stage transports us, post-overture, almost immediately to the quarters where the Figaro/Susanna interaction takes place. It comes in handy again later, moving seamlessly from the third act to the fourth. Vito Priante is a superb Figaro, perfectly focused of voice and with great stage presence. One gets the impression that he is equally confident in comedy as high drama, which gives this Figaro appreciable depth. His “Se vuol ballare” has real menace, his voice strong throughout the registers. However, “Non più andrai” seems a little under tempo; Ticciati's fault, not Priante's. Lydia Teuscher provides a perfectly idiomatic, light-voiced but intensely human Susanna. Her final act “Deh vieni non tardar” is beautifully affecting.
It is delightful to see Ann Murray as Marcellina, here perfectly matched in her opening scene with Bartolo. The wonderful Andrew Shore, so familiar from English National Opera - is here seemingly doing his best to look like Michael Caine. Her ensuing duet with Susanna is frankly hilarious, and entirely true to the spirit of Mozart's score. Shore's “La vendetta” is a marvel of energy, and the audience's applause at the close is fully justified.
Sally Matthews' Countess is a touching assumption. She sings “Porgi amor” very well, although in fairness the true art of this aria lies with the OAE's accompaniment. They prepare for Matthews' entrance perfectly and accompany with perfect gentleness. Her moment of glory actually comes in the third act “Dove sono”, where she is at her most touching.
Cherubino, sporting fantastically sixties clothing - the size of those collars - is the tremendously strong Isabel Leonard. Despite the short hair, little chance of her fooling anyone about her sex, but how magnificently and freshly she despatches “Non so più”; the second act “Voi che sapete” is likewise as fresh as a daisy, yet full of longing. Facial close-ups leave the viewer in no doubt as to the Countess's reactions.
I stand absolutely by my statement in the Proms review of the Count as a sort of operatic Keith Lemon. Iverson is a terrific singer though, nowhere better heard than in the Count's Act 3 “Ha già vinta la causa”. Barbarina's brief minor-key aria at the opening of the final act (“L'ho perduta”) is outstanding from Sarah Shafer. Act 4 is beautifully and nocturnally lit, as if echoing the whispered secrets of the recitatives.
Andrew Shore, one of the great character-actors/singers of our times, is a fabulously funny Bartolo. The OAE is on blistering form throughout, not just in the Overture; the Glyndebourne Chorus is splendidly well-drilled. That Ticciati took over from Jurowski at Glyndebourne as of this year (2014) is a cause for great celebration, judging by the musical strengths of the present production.
Some of the subtitles are true to the spirit of the piece, also: “The horny sod must go” for example; or its subtle variant, “Out you come, you horny bastard”. All in all this is a very professional, class product. It is fitting that Glyndebourne's most recent Figaro has been captured so effectively, and in the pristine medium of Blu-Ray.