The Wales Millennium Centre’s Donald Gordon Theatre was full last night (7th of February, 2009) for the opening night of WNO’s new production of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. The director was Lluis Pasqual and there was a distinctly Spanish feeling to this production, which is shared with the opera house in Barcelona. Mozart’s opera is full of dance and this production, updated to the 1930s, is certainly full of ‘flapper dancing’, arguably to the point of distraction. The designer, Paco Azorin, has created an elegant set which becomes more abstract as the opera progresses until we reach the climax of Act 4 in a mirrored, moving, abstract garden. The way that the mirrored panels moved in this final act was quite incredible (given that these were individually manoeuvered by invisible technical staff). This created a claustrophobic, sinister and exciting conclusion to the opera. Despite my reservations about the production I have no reservations about the singing itself. The Welsh soprano Rebecca Evans, a world famous Susanna, made a stunning debut as the Countess, spinning gorgeous tone despite some indulgent conducting. Audiences on the WNO tour (and next year in Chicago) have a treat in store from this special artist. This is especially true of Evans’ singing with another world famous Welsh soprano, Rosemary Joshua, making her WNO debut. The letter duet between the two women was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the evening when the audience really seemed to catch its breath. I was also impressed by the bright soprano of Fiona Murphy’s Cherubino. A fourth soprano, Sophie Bevan (Barbarina), sang beautifully, but her aria seemed slow and a little heavy.

The male cast was dominated by the beautifully sung Figaro of David Soar, making his debut in the title role. Jacques Imbrailo’s Count was lighter voiced but his aria was commanding and very well sung. Completing the cast was Henry Waddington’s excellent Dr Bartolo, Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts’ camp Don Basilio, Howard Kirk’s stuttering Don Curzio, Sarah Pring’s excellent Marcellina and Arwel Huw Morgan’s comic Antonio. The conductor Michael Hofstetter directed a loving performance despite occasional ensemble difficulties between stage and pit, most noticeable, sadly, in the closing bars of the opera.

Indeg Williams (aged 15)

Indeg attended a production of Welsh National Opera's Marriage of Figaro at the Welsh Millenium Centre on 7th February 2009.