Tuesday, 16 August 2011

August Opera Challenge Day Sixteen: Favourite Couple

This was a surprisingly easy choice, as most of opera's great romances are seriously flawed. I adore Tosca, but she's jealous and needy, and he has a penchant for hiding dissidents in his garden with disasterous consequences. Voglieteme bene is one of my favourite love duets in the entire repertoire, but let's face it, Pinkerton's motives are extremely questionable. And I think it's best that I don't even go near any Wagnerian love affairs! When I need cheering up, I ususally reach for some Mozart, and Figaro and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro always make me smile.

There are a few little mix-ups throughout the course of the action (jealousy gets the better of them both at times) but Figaro and Susanna remain one of the most delightful pairings in all opera. Despite his boss (Count Almaviva) and mother (Marcellina) both attempting to put obstacles in the way of their marriage, they remain true to each other and everything works out happily in the end. I love all the possibilities for great humour, genuine affection and sexual chemistry between them, and Cinque, dieci, venti, trenta which begins Act I is one of my all-time favourite duets.

I find the idea behind Cinque so clever- it introduces the audience to these two principal characters and the nature of their relationship, but at the same time draws perceptively on the comedic differences between men and women (she wants him to look at her in the veil she's made for their impending nuptials, he's far more concerned with measuring up for their new bed..) It has its gorgeous romantic parts, but lots of comedy too and moves effortlessly into their first (very humorous) little domestic. I adore the amazing Jonathan Miller production for the Met (which in 1998 featured Bryn Terfel and Cecilia Bartoli as the love birds) but I can't resist posting a clip with Bryn and Dorothea Roschmann in the roles in Salzburg in 1995. Basically this is because I'd like to live in a box with Bryn Terfel. Lucky Dorothea.

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