Elena Barbalich's mis-en-scene for Le nozze di Figaro seemed a swirling game of Chinese boxes, where several locations in Count Almaviva’s castle expand or restrict themselves, where steps open narrow passages, where walls disappear in order to show hidden spaces such as clefts, stairs, an entrance hall, balconies, corridors and bedrooms. These are all crossing points from a public dimension to a private one, but also places of intimacy, where people love each other and confess their own feelings. Spectators are invited to cast a glance to this tangled mish-mash of love, adultery, intrigues, recognition and reunification. And, even though the characters, from the aristocrats to the servants, are all punished in a pillory, nobody is ever judged with ethical sentences. It’s rather constant an almost clinical attention to their multifaceted and ambiguous relationships.

Ekaterina Bakanova (Susanna) and Mirco Palazzi (Figaro) © Ramella & Giannese | Teatro Regio di Torino
Ekaterina Bakanova (Susanna) and Mirco Palazzi (Figaro)
© Ramella & Giannese | Teatro Regio di Torino

The transition from the pure classicism of the first two acts to the more abstract dimension of the following two was intriguing. The vague atmosphere of Acts III and IV was depicted by suffused lights and especially by the opaque backdrop, a sort of enormous mirror which lightly reflects the figures of the characters on stage. Everyone was observed from more than one perspective: nothing is definitive, everything can be easily reversed into its contrary. Even the static postures, almost statuesque, in the finale of the opera seemed to hint at the abstract nature, so to celebrate the ending of the opera with an ideal synthesis of all the labyrinthine dynamics which we have just seen:were full  the freshness of love (with some mistakes) between Susanna and Figaro, the one eroded and nostalgic of the Countess, the curious and immature attraction of Cherubino (who loves every woman), the greedy impetus of the Count, until the final palingenesis, when the sentimental mess seemed to be recomposed into a more comforting order. However, the same notes which accompanied the final forgiveness of the Countess (“Più docile io sono, e dico di sì”) sadly rang out, clashing against the reconciling words of the woman. A sense of bitterness lingers in the air, which would later be embodied in Don Giovanni and in the disenchant of Così fan tutte.

Carmela Remigio (Countess), Ekaterina Bakanova (Susanna) and Vito Priante (Count Almaviva) © Ramella & Giannese | Teatro Regio di Torino
Carmela Remigio (Countess), Ekaterina Bakanova (Susanna) and Vito Priante (Count Almaviva)
© Ramella & Giannese | Teatro Regio di Torino

Yutaka Sado conducted the Orchestra of Teatro Regio often at a very slow pace, which often sounded a bit exasperating (especially in “Se vuol ballare, signor contino”). This did not really reflect the vitality of the bubbly Mozartian score (where at least the overture and the end should be executed with double-quick tempo, in order to highlight the whirlwind of the plot which trails all the characters in “this day of torments, caprices and madness”).

Mirco Palazzi was a good Figaro (with a rather light voice for the role). He was emphatic on stage and not very agile in “Non più andrai”. Ekaterina Bakanova (a graceful Susanna) showed beautiful touches and an exquisitely clear timbre. Particularly scintillating and successful were her duettino with Marcellina (“Via resti servita”) and the duet with Cherubino (“Aprite, presto, aprite”). She was also very melodious in the aria “Venite, inginocchiatevi”.

Act IV conclusion © Ramella & Giannese | Teatro Regio di Torino
Act IV conclusion
© Ramella & Giannese | Teatro Regio di Torino

Carmela Remigio sang the Countess Almaviva. She softly modulated her voice (with careful phrasing) in her two arias, sorrowful and intense in “Porgi, amor” and morbid in “Dove sono”. The duettino “Sull’aria” with Bakanova was magnificent. Vito Priante sang the Count: he sang well, even if he lacked a bit of interpretative expression, especially in his only aria “Vedrò mentr’io sospiro”. He did better in the exuberant duettino with Susanna “Crudel! perché finora”. Paola Gardina was a shrill Cherubino (almost a soprano voice), capable of expressing with energy and fine technique the juvenile lightness and agitation of the character (notably in “Non so più cosa son” and “Voi che sapete”).

It is worth mentioning the nice recitativo “Tutto ancor non ho perso” of the fine Alexandra Zabala (Marcellina), the satisfying performance of Bartolo’s revenge aria (Abramo Rosalen) and the good Barbarina of Arianna Vendittelli. Bruno Lazzaretti (Basilio) often seemed in trouble with rhythms. The ensemble “Riconosci in questo amplesso” in Act III and the final “Ah, tutti contenti” were triumphs of vitality and perfect harmony between voices on stage and the orchestra . 

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