Even with subs, the Met is Figarollin’

by Clive Barnes (NY Post)

«Beneath Mozart’s form and dazzle lies the complexity of flesh and blood and humanity – never more so than in “Le Nozze di Figaro” (“The Marriage of Figaro”), which returned to the Metropolitan Opera Tuesday night with a couple of surprises.

On short notice, the young soprano Lisette Oropesa replaced a pregnant Isabel Bayrakdarian as Figaro’s bride, Susanna, and the earlier announced substitution of Hei-Kyung Hong for the indisposed Dorothea Roschmann as the Countess lent the performance a certain piquancy.

Oropesa, deliciously pert in her acting and extraordinarily vocally assured, was the winner of the 2005 Met Opera National Council Auditions, but the New Orleans soprano appeared in only a couple of small roles last season.

She looks and sounds like a real find.

Hong made a lovely, creamy-voiced Countess. Though the popular South Korean soprano had sung 23 different roles at the Met since her 1984 debut, this was her first Countess, and the Met hadn’t placed her on the roster at all this season.

That seems to have been a real mistake.

Both newcomer and veteran fitted smoothly into the splendid ensemble cast, led by the rising Uruguayan bass Erwin Schrott. In his first Met “Figaro,” he was bold, funny, sexy and often vocally a touch naughty, incorporating the odd laugh, sneer or snarl into the musical phrase. All in all, he was terrific.

Michele Pertusi provided a handsome solid Count, and we had two interesting Met debuts, Anke Vondung as a sprightly Cherubino, and Kathleen Kim, sweet in the small, telling role of Barbarina.

Jonathan Miller’s happily conventional, yet heartfelt, staging of this bittersweet comedy of love and marriage has become a little blurred in detail over the years, but Peter J. Davison’s shabbily ornate settings are still just right, and Swiss conductor Philippe Jordan proved brisk and stylishly Mozartean.»

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