Le Nozze di Figaro - Metropolitan Opera, 10/26/2012
Abdrazakov, Erdmann, Kovalevska, Schäfer, Finley / Robertson
Wait, no joke? The Met managed to ruin Figaro? Seriously!?
Yep. I hadn't thought it possible. Jonathan Miller's production debuted with James Levine and an all-star cast, but quickly adapted to all sorts of personnel. Big names, small names, Levine, not Levine, the show rolled on. (Best Figaro: probably Furlanetto. Best non-Levine conductor: undoubtedly Edo de Waart.) But not this time. David Robertson is finally the conductor who makes nonsense from Mozart's sense, intentionally removing all traces of breath, sentiment, line, reflection, rapture, and, well, anything besides an endless monotonous chugging-forward from the piece. At this point it's impossible to get the Met Orchestra to sound bad in this material, but Robertson turns what should be the ebb and flow of feeling into sonic cacophony. I was initially inclined to point fingers at Gregory Keller's unsubtle stage direction and Christine Schäfer's bizarrely grim and glum Cherubino, but by the end I wondered if they were just trying to keep up with the pit's insanity. Mojca Erdmann (the second Lulu in the cast!) is miscast -- Susanna repeatedly hits the sour part of her voice -- but the rest of the cast was quite good... given what they had to work with. I'm amazed that Ildar Abdrazakov kept up with the silly, breathless tempi Robertson set in his last-act aria.
Ensembles also seemed under-rehearsed, but from all evidence that's not going to fix Robertson's anti-Mozartean pit work. He makes Mozart boring. Avoid.