Le nozze di Figaro at the Bayerische Staatsoper has been the best production of a Mozart opera I have seen to date there. Too bad two cellular phones rang during the performance. How difficult can it be to remember to turn a noisy electronic item while at a performance?
As soon as the curtain when up, one could tell this was a Dorn/Rose staging, since the scene change curtain was painted much in the manner of their curtain in Così. The stage consisted of one room with with white canvas walls and three doorways. In Act I the light blue doors were off their hinges, in Act II they were set right, in Act III there were dark blue doors, and in Act IV there were no doors. The furnishings were typical Rococo-style, and the floor was covered with various painted designs to look like carpet until the last act, when it was replaced by one large plain white sheet with two smaller sheets as furnishings. Dieter Dorn and Jürgen Rose returned to the silly device of having the singers hide under the sheets and crawl around under them. At least Figaro did not go through the wall as Guglielmo did in Così, though the former was illuminated through the canvas wall as he eavesdropped on Susanna's "Deh vieni."
The costumes were very much like what one always sees in Mozart operas, and were pretty. The only glaring error was perhaps putting Magdalena Kozená in knickers that were perhaps too close fitting, as she was to be the boy Cherubino, and has very adorable girl-thighs that were only exaggerated by the beige trousers.
The choreography was not too bad, the dance-like steps that were interspersed worked quite well. Amanda Roocroft was especially good with movement, she was a sassy Countess. However, they had trouble with Cherubino, making him too childish. Though in the scene when he escapes the Count, they have Cherubino jump into the orchestra pit, and this comes off very well.
Ivor Bolton's conducting was not impressive, one never feels that he has full control.
The singing was of high-caliber, it was too bad the prompter was over on the side and there were a few problems with synchronicity. Peter Mattei was an impressive Almaviva, his voice is very sweet. The Swedish baritone is of an imposing height, he must be 6'4''. On the other hand, the two British sopranos, Amanda Roocroft and Rosemary Joshua, cannot be much more than 5' tall each. They both have lovely voices, and nicely distinct from one another. Roocroft (Countess Almaviva) has a pretty voice that is slightly cold and thin but not too quiet, whereas Joshua (Susanna), whose voice is also pretty, is warmer in tone and more flexible. The latter was especially impressive and angelic in the aforementioned "Deh vieni." The bass John Relyea was a charming Figaro, but also quite tall, and thus looks somewhat silly in knee breeches. Relyea's voice was as impressive as it was in Cenerentola: warm, clear, good volume. His diction is also very precise, the accents are all neatly on the correct syllables. Magdalena Kozená is no Kirchschlager, but was an adequate Cherubino. Kozená's voice is like an angel's, but very light.