The Geneva “Figaro” (2017) Liveblogging Thread

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Welcome to the White Shirt live comment thread for Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro” from Geneva (2017), with Marko Letonja conducting and staged by former house director Tobias Richter.

Cast List:
Guido Loconsolo (Figaro)
Fabrice Farina (Don Curzio)
Bálint Szabó (Bartolo)
Ildebrando D’Arcangelo (Graf Almaviva)
Nicole Cabell (Gräfin Almaviva)
Regula Mühlemann (Susanna)
Mélody Louledjian (Barbarina)
Avery Amereau (Cherubino)
Monica Bacelli (Marcellina)
Bruce Rankin (Don Basilio)

Libretto: English/Italian/German (html)

 

814 thoughts on “The Geneva “Figaro” (2017) Liveblogging Thread”

      1. *snort*
        even the arm chair looks uncomfortable. And that ironing board is ages below Amsterdam, where most of the set motions seem to come from.

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      1. a rare red pond chick peacock.
        Who designed this??? someone from Vienna?
        or is this just there to distract from the lack of personenregie? Because this entire recit made NO SENSE in relation to the text.

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  1. Susanna is training for a big as Adele in The Fledermaus, and Figaro is bellowing.
    Mühlmann was more fun in a soldier’s uniform making eyes at Bartoli in that Zurich Comte Ory… so far, this is cutezzzzzzzy, no more.

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      1. perhaps he still needs to warm up (looks young, too). Bottom color is nice and round, top flails a bit. Perhaps a better Verdian someday?

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            1. sometimes you do wonder. We thought about it just by sitting around and these professionals bought a few and didn’t use them – instead we got the tired chair with sheet on it…

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      1. in EVERY figaro, more or less.

        On a side note, turning Bartolo and Marcellina into laughing stock takes away from the clear danger signify and makes the plot so much more tepid. They should be creepy baby boomers in power with far too good court contacts.

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            1. well, 13 in the 1780s (when teh countess was likely 19?) was about the same as 32 in the 1910s…?

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            2. plus BEaumarchais was arguing for “harmlessness” when he put that into the defensive intro.

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    1. yes, after a Weinstein debate week and two different essays (one by Susanne Mentzer) on sexual harassment in the opera business, this ring s a little close to reality.

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            1. no idea. I don’t know that I liked the singing, just the character reminded me a lot of small-town party hardys from around here.

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  2. Susanna and Figaro depict the perils of dating a hairdresser – probably one who has a salon with once of these forced creative names like “hairetics”. They probably met there and need to promote a curling iron line.

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  3. okay, Cabell makes more sense to me here than previously, though I think I’ll simply not click with her at large – and I need to move past the vibrato range. Recit works better for me here.

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  4. (jeah… that phrasing.. i think it’s her way of delivering the (not continous) lines , i always hear the words interrupting the lines, even the weights interrupting , and sometimes the physical movements as well..)

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    1. the conductor probably said “he, if the stage director isn’t working with the singers beyond pushing them in a general direction, I don’t have to either!”

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  5. Cabell/d’Arcangelo camping it up soap style is by far the most engaging moment in this staging so far (with the exception of Marcellina, perhaps)

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        1. the facial expression matching with with *precise* movements, and music. like TOTAL synching. (and you’re right, because i can hear.. but even if i can’t hear.. omg, her hand movements.. i’ll have to research about myself after this..)

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          1. Marcellinas should ALWAYS have early music phrasing experience, she can make sense of that whole scene on her own, directing attempts or lack thereof be damned.

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        1. yes, just kidding.
          I thought at first some dove had gotten lost in there and lost all their feathers.
          And with whatever was left of the fabric, they cushioned the high chairs.

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  6. Against my better judgment, I like this goofball Count. Something about making the character vulnerable by joking about him at the same time.

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      1. he has great material, and it’s still in splendid shape. Staging-wise, he could be horriby smarmy & sexist DonG a decade or so ago; this here is clearly a work of growth.

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      1. this one’s fun ike Figaro is fun sometimes, with poking fun at hegemonic masculinity. The abusive riding crop wielding brutes (Fischer-Dieskau…) do make a point on class and gender systems, but I really dislike them.

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    1. (my impression of him has been mixed.. here he’s super spontaneous, like in that Wien DonG.. but that donG with MP in that disgusting staging, it was beyond repair his tiring singing.. might have been protest..)

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            1. Idomeneo would be great, I love that staging. – I’m out the next two Saturdays, though. And didn’t you want to do Galatea with SM first?

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      1. I would guess a bit of both? Her take seems heavy to me, rather old-school (though I find her really alert in acting) – she does pull-backs to piano that seem near abrupt given the weight she puts in; and I think I share your impression of phrase length. Still, I like this one more than her Alcina and her Giulietta.

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          1. Yes, I guess that is what I mean? Starting a size too big, and then the nuance gets lost? And it is old-school in sort of emulating the great of the 60s?

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  7. Well, friends, I’m home, and ARTE will not let me skip to any time but the start, so I believe that’s it for me today. 😦

    I’ll read through the comments at the end, though!

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    1. yeah, it’s really tepid, and ham-handed and often out of sync. Slobby mezzoforte and an occasional thought of “Ah, right, there is a singer up there.”

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    1. and the shade of “And this is your Dad” BWAHAHAAA:
      and now the Count having a breakdown. Watching for usually underappreciated scenes, indeed.

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          1. (jeah, we’ll see. i can’t believe how much i enjoyed her in this non-trouser role. I think it’s normally the case for me, to see the singer in something non-typical to really appreciate their acting & phrasing , hence VK & Helene..)

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            1. if Leia can do cinnamon buns and lead a revolution, why should Marcellina not do the same.

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            2. i have been thinking about this, i am quite certained i dont have a Bacelli situation 🙂 . and strangely it was her tole in dress that drew my attention to finally really appreciate her movements/gestures and phrasing.. rather than the other way around of somehow having the situation clouded my judgement and admiring her in dress :-). i also worked it out that it has to do with the actual color of her voice , somehow it doesnt paralize me…

              i can also assure you i have a serious Mingardo situation 😉 , have been since Aug 2014… also interestingly with her i can identify regardless of whether she is in a dress or in trousers. and after seeing Bacelli ( and hearing both you and Dehggi complaining about the dress) i wonder actually if i somehow nornally dont look at them as much but rather at body postures and angles. (and voice, being the primary reason of course, before any postures/gestures even come in play)

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            3. Interesting, I think clothes often matter for me, also because they are linked to movements/posture/stance? But clearly there are exception from this in some singers, who don’t correspond to traditional displays of femininity when wearing a dress.
              I agree about the voices, my reaction to Bacelli is often more a ‘really cool’ and I think her general stance is a core part of her appeal, while Mingardo yes, ‘paralizing’, that’s the right description, she makes me feel physically weak, and why did it take me such a while to really ‘get’ her voice?

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            4. now that i think about it: i do pay attention to clothes, but in a sense that they don’t hinder but highlight the movements. Like Bacelli’s dress in this prod, i find it punctuates her gestures and facial expressions very well: i could see her arm extension all the way to the tip of her fingers, and the wrist angles/gesturing, and eyebrow! 😀 , and that adooooorable smile while sheepishly asking for something, soo in tune.

              i know we also talked about this before as well: designs that allows free-movements and punctuate angles (ze shirt + pants in Paris, even Aspasia’s dress, and VK’s shirt in Orphée..) vs designs only for the look or destroys the angles / limiting movements (this Galatea’s dress at the knees, wrong material on shirt on Romeo in Munich, etc.) . And indeed when putting on the trousers i think you get to see the postures more i tend to believe because they highlight different angles (Ottone in particular, of angles we might never see from S.Mingardo otherwise).

              I wonder if Mingardo singing the same repertoire as S.Prina’s is one of the reasons it took you a while to investigate her? 🙂 . That’s the reason it took me such a long time to appreciate Ann Hallenberg. i was thinking about it yesterday while walking home from work: that i managed to explore Mingardo simply because she has ZERO overlap with Kasarova. (Almost the same goes with Antonacci).

              (ps- oh, “paralyzing”, not only is she shutting down my brain, now I also can’t speak properly either, might need the basket! )

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            5. I can already see that I’ll be the designated blog driver tomorrow; your amount of pre-blog fangirling is outmaxing the scale!

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            6. Angles, yes, I need to think more about this, probably much of this works subconsciously, and you may be better than me or others in looking ‘through’ the outer appearances like clothing (Ehem, this sounds a bit cheesy, but you know how I mean it).
              You’re probably right about the overlap with Sonia Prina because when you are obsessed with one approach on a piece it is difficult to appreciate others for the moment. I always found Mingardo’s voice very pleasant, but since her voice is warmer than Prina’s, it was also harder for me to overcome that perception of an alto voice as ‘mature’ or ‘matronly’ (in a very feminine way), and I think I had this perception quite internalized from many years of oratorio singing/listening. So, it is a bit embarassing to apparently ‘work’ that simple, but having that voice connected to someone who is super attractive at first sight and not matronly at all seemed to do the trick for me (remember when you posted the Ottone picture during a live blog?). And I wonder how much of angles and stance was already showing on that single picture, because it really was an eye opener. Although, before, in the Aix Trionfo, I do remember being intrigued by her smile already.

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            7. ah, it was the picture! how cool 🙂 . i wasn’t sure at all, i put it there mainly for me to drool while whining about missing the contralto. it was a pleasant surprise to see your sudden interest 😉 . and i had it taken wrong that you might have thought hers is a “feminine” approach ( we’ll even have to elaborate what i mean there at some point.. ), but that’s why i thought once the army uniform was off your interest would immediately dropped.. so was internally happy to hear another person who also hearing SM well..

              i’ll have to think how this works in general… but i believe how we see “beyond” an appearance is quite similar, even if what we look for might be different:

              For example, i had always taken (before, based on her Polinesso in Aix) that S.Prina’s approach was always very “angular” and “tough” .. which i interpreted as 1d, and it was her Cesare, showing vulnerability (remember that scene she pounded the chest, then at the slightest noise panic and ran off..) and immediately i catch on to the “artist” rather than a 1d singer.. and further evidence of course in her sensitive delivery of Rinaldo, which from the first look is also quite a tough dude.. so i think it’s at that level of eureka that we “hear” the finer details. And for artists who are that talented that once we get over a certain self hurdle then it works for us, no matter with outside influence or not.

              back a little bit to her Ottone: indeed i was truly happy to see her in this role, because i’ve already known how she portrayed female roles and Polinesso.. but this one was eye opening in how she approaches “caring for someone” in the most basic sense instead of imitating movements / postures to appear male. Perhaps similar to what she said in that Andronico’s interview: seeking a point where she and the role merge into one and she is the person with that feeling, rather than imitating.

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            8. …catching up on this! First, I need to look at the picture again, it was the Schwetzingen Poppea, right? Ah, yes, really lovely, that relaxed posture and the combination of uniform and roses, but of course it’s only getting really interesting when you connect that to the voice. Her approach on Ottone was very moving, you really have to explain what you mean by ‘feminine’, but if it includes more human weakness and insecurities versus being tough and ready to fight at all times, I’m all for feminine approaches in trouser roles.
              As you say, Mingardo is very authentic in her roles, merging with a role, but I do wonder if her male and female roles do have different movements and gestures? And if yes, is it because of the characters gender or more because they are just different characters? I seems to me Galatea does have a different way of moving but that may really be only because of the constricting dress (Now that you’ve mentioned it, I can’t unsee it, and it really bothers me).
              Btw. I may have given the wrong impression in what I’m looking for with my thing for Polinesso, but in fact I think that is more a case of appreciating a favourite singer and her acting abilities in whatever role, after having discovered her in other roles before (Rinaldo definately has a soft side and that Cesare was just very funny and cute in his imperfections) and once you have seen their soft side, it is easier to even appreciate brutish behaviour in Polinesso?
              Oh and, also connecting to ‘feminine’ Ottone, since the topic of the gender of trouser roles did come up repeatedly lately, I thought about it, and I think I usually see them as women, but need to pay attention if there are exceptions in some cases (i.e. once they are having a beard or a very convincing costume/makeup, it’s getting more confusing of course).

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            9. And I have always been drawn to her voice, but knew her only from non-opera and concert repertory, so until Aix and Ottone, she wasn’t that much on my radar as a stage singer, i.e. For gestures/movements/stances.

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