There’s a whole lot of love in Scottish Opera’s revival of its 2010 production of The Marriage of Figaro, directed by Thomas Allen. Traditional without being old-fashioned, Simon Higlett’s clever and towering design is harmoniously lit by Mark Jonathan. There is a drive and verve from the pit, where Tobias Ringborg has the Orchestra of Scottish Opera shimmering.
The dust of harvest floats across the bucolic opening, with peasants rolling around behind sheafs of corn. Allen quickly betrays a lack of attention to the details of the background performances in favour of broad strokes from his principals – this favouring of broadness over subtlety is one of the production’s least attractive traits.
Anna Devin’s Susanna is the stand-out performance. Bright of voice and quick of intellect, Devin owns Act I when Susanna is confronted with a succession of unwanted visitor’s to her future bed-chamber. Against her clarity, Ben McAteer’s Figaro is solid, both in voice and acting performance. Samuel Dale Johnson’s count possesses the necessary magnetism, although his voice is not always as strong as his lustful urges.
It’s in the Countess Almaviva – who Eleanor Dennis gives a fine sense of the loneliness of one loved, scorned and betrayed – that this sets its intellectual mettle. Defined by her childlessness when a ghostly infant walks across her room in her opening aria, she gives the opera its final twist when, having seemingly put the issue of infidelity to bed, she embraces it again by foisting a final ribbon on Hanna Hipp’s ultra-randy (and gorgeously sung) Cherubino.