11:28 8 November 2021
A packed house on the newly renovated Jackson’s Lane enjoyed the Hampstead Garden Opera’s noisy production of Mozart’s classic opera Le Nozze di Figaro.
With a length of more than three hours, it can be a bit of a drag, but time passed thanks to inspired performances by HGO’s talented young singers.
As with many 18th-century operas, the plot’s complexity is on a par with the EastEnders – infatuations, awards, and misinterpretations – but a helpful program guides the uninitiated through the intrigues. In HGO’s ‘retelling’, Count Almaviva’s property clings to its former glory, in denial that World War I is on the doorstep.
There are changing cast, but on our evening, Figaro was the excellent James Gribble and his girlfriend Susanna played with confidence and joie-de-vie by Anna-Luise Wagner.
Like Cherubino, Esme Bronwen-Smith brought a robust corporeality to his portrayal of a young boy in full hormone, while Peter Edge’s Count Almaviva at the other end of the age group conclusively proved that there is no fool like and old fool as he roared around . the scene in his mobile opium cave and chased anyone who caught his eye.
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Deborah Holborn’s Marcelina is a pure pantomime lady, but it was Rusne Tuslaite as Contessa who surprised the audience at the start of the second act with her effortless soprano and understated stage presence in aria Porgi, amor, qualche ristoro.
Director Julia Mintzer encourages her cast to milk the play’s comic potential, though I did not feel that pushing parallels from World War I completely worked with such a light-hearted tumult. With a striped versatile set and on-stage chamber orchestra, it was Mozart’s timeless music and amazing performances that compelled.
Until November 14.