Affairs and flailing marriages dominated Glyndebourne’s opening production of The Wreckers; continuing that cheering theme, the second opera of the festival was a revival of Michael Grandage’s sumptuous production of Le nozze di Figaro, here supervised by director Ian Rutherford.

Count Almaviva (Germán Olvera) and Susanna (Hera Hyesang Park)
© Bill Cooper

Grandage debuted the production ten years ago, but it still packs a punch and remains delightfully crisp, a technical malfunction early on in the first night aside. The large rotating set itself is a feast for the eyes: Grandage brings the setting forward to the 1960s, but it remains decidedly Mediterranean, with a palette of ochres and oranges upon a fusion of Christian and Moorish architecture. Count Almaviva is resplendent in an array of bright outfits that culminate in a gorgeous red velvet jacket with paisley trousers. The Countess swirls and floats around the stage in floating pales colours while Don Basilio – almost intolerably oleaginous – flaunts a check combination that makes one wonder at the sartorial decisions of our forebears. Rutherford and Kieran Sheehan – stepping in as revival movement director – keep the choreography tight throughout, with a huge amount of organic behaviour on show during the tutti moments, while treating us to some genuinely funny synchronised dancing in the second half.

Cherubino (Emily Pogorelc) and Susanna (Hera Hyesang Park)
© Bill Cooper

The revival benefits from a cast that is wholly invested and absorbed in the comedy – and drama – of the work, with pinpoint timing on comic delivery and a commitment to credible and high-quality acting. Combined with some excellent singing, the festival gives us the complete package here. The standout was the sensational performance by Hera Hyesang Park, singing Susanna, who gripped the attention in every scene. Park gave an excellent turn as Despina in Glyndebourne’s Cosi fan tutte last year and she here reinforced her Mozartian credentials in a performance that blended purity of singing with humour and humanity. There was a touch of occlusion in the singing early on, a tendency for the last couple of words slightly to lose their consistency, but by the second half she was a tour de force, the voice pellucid with notes like a string of pearls. Her acting too really brought the performance together: at times a mirthful firecracker, at others giving a touch of a chill as she showed flashes of the horror of her predicament, the fear of being a lower-class woman in a setting dominated by a lustful liege. There was real chemistry in her interactions with Figaro, sonorously sung by Brandon Cedel, in excellent voice. Cedel is a formidable figure and gave us a larger than life barber underscored by some winning singing: there’s a touch of sugar in the higher register that contrasts appealingly with his oaky lower notes.

Figaro (Brandon Cedel) and Count Almaviva (Germán Olvera)
© Bill Cooper

Amanda Woodbury delivered a sweetly sung Countess, the phasing on "Dove sono" immaculate and the tone in the "Canzonetta sull'aria" bright and fragrant. She was an attractively gentle figure against the rather hard Almaviva of Germán Olvera. Olvera’s singing, though elegant, was at times slightly unimposing, but his acting was tremendous (as was his rather snazzy legwork), giving us a Count at first simply driven by lust and the pleasure of being able to take what he wanted, and then by fury at being denied what he deems to be his. Emily Pogorelc’s clean soprano voice was deftly deployed in the role of Cherubino, to which she brought lively testosterone-fueled energy. Rosie Aldridge and Peter Kálmán brought mirthful glee to Marcellina and Bartolo, respectively.

Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro
© Bill Cooper

In the pit, Giancarlo Andretta led the London Philharmonic Orchestra in a velvety reading of the score. There were a few moments in the first half where Andretta seemed to be slightly rushing the cast, but this had settled down by Act 3 and doubtless will be ironed out in later performances. On the whole, an inspired and entertaining revival of an excellent production.