Mozart’s most famous opera has been staged so many times it’s difficult to see how much freshness can be brought to a new production, but Jo Davies’ revival for Opera North is witty, exciting and exuberant.
Davies’ production is sung in English without surtitles but the multinational cast are so clear and precise that they’re really not needed. The chemistry between that cast is so enjoyable that even with a three-and-a-half-hour running time, it seems to fly by.
Fflur Wyn’s Susanna is sweet and down to earth, while Dutch baritone Quirijn de Lang is a perfectly rakish Count, providing one of the highlights of the evening with his aria in Act III. There are also standout performances from Heather Lowe as Cherubino and Alexandra Oomens who makes an all too brief but memorable appearance as Barbarina.
Figaro is, of course, at heart a farce, and there are also several genuinely funny moments, not least the appearance of an unfortunately positioned poster bearing the phrase “We love our Count”, and the re-imagining of the gardener Antonio as a bluff Yorkshireman.
The constant hiding behind doors and furniture ensures the pace never flags, and the more poignant moments hit the right emotional tone, not least Máire Flavin’s gorgeous rendition of Dove Sono i Bei Momenti.
Anthony Hermus’ orchestra brings Mozart’s sumptuous music to life perfectly, while Leslie Travers’ sets are suitably opulent. It all makes for a suitably joyous production, one likely to please opera novices and aficionados alike.