Le Nozze di Figaro: AAM Interview with Roberto Lorenzi, Simona Mihai and Wallis Giunta
The Academy of Ancient Music brings Mozart’s beloved masterpiece Le Nozze di Figaro to the Grange Festival for six nights in June 2019, under the baton of Richard Egarr and in a sumptuous new production by Martin Lloyd-Evans. Performances run from 6-30 June, followed by a concert staging at London’s Barbican Centre on 4 July; tickets can be found on our ‘Concerts and Projects’ page.
Amidst busy rehearsals, bass-baritone Roberto Lorenzi (Figaro) soprana Simona Mihai (Countess) and mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta (Cherubino) took a moment to relate to us their favourite Figaro arias and parts of the score, as well as what makes Figaro ‘the opera of operas’…
What is your favourite aria in ‘Figaro’?
(Simona Mihai) ‘‘Dove sono’ has to take the crown for me. Rosina, as the new Penelope at her most vulnerable moment of self reflection, questions Love itself, which always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…’
(Roberto Lorenzi) ‘I would say ‘Hai già vinta la causa’ (Count Almaviva)’
(Wallis Giunta) ‘Deh vieni, non tardar (Susannah)’
Favourite dramatic moment in the work?
(S. M.) ‘‘Contessa perdono’… the exquisitely divine music moment when the bully, amorous, egotistical, deeply flawed Count, begs forgiveness from the one person on this universe who could possibly grant it; his one true love and wife…’
(R. L.) ‘The last part of the fourth act is the moment where everything changes. Figaro, who from the beginning of the opera was not completely sure about Susanna’s loyalty, now understands that his wife is faithful. The count is forced to ask forgiveness from the countess, even if we know (from Beaumarchais) that her figure is not completely honest. The result is the contraposition between the couples in completely opposite states.’
(W. G.) ‘When Marcellina and Bartolo find out Figaro is their son! It’s the perfect intersection of comedy and tragedy.’
If you could play a character other than yourself in Figaro, what would it be and why?
(S. M.) ‘It has to be the Count… Under the shell of an authoritarian brute, Da Ponte truly shows the Count’s inner self in the last scene. What a challenging and rewarding journey to portray as a musician and actor!’
(W. G.) ‘Figaro!’
Isaiah Berlin described Figaro as ‘the best opera ever written by a human being’ and a recent BBC Music Magazine poll named it as ‘the greatest opera of all time’. Why might this be the case?
(S. M.) ‘A young child coming out of the performance can happily whistle ‘Sel vuol ballare’; a first time listener can let themselves be carried away on a rollercoaster of emotions; a philosopher/poet can spend days/weeks after, reflecting on a single libretto line or music phrase; a ‘seasoned’ musician can discover something entirely new, they never experienced before. This work transcends time and emotions; it breathes today exactly the same way it did on its opening night on May 1st, 1786’
(R. L.) ‘For me Le Nozze di Figaro has the best collaboration between librettist and composer in the history of music. I’ve studied this opera a lot but feel that it’s never enough; every time that I look to the score I discover something new. This is because it is the daughter of two geniuses.’
(W. G.) ‘This piece has the most deeply relatable humanity of any opera I have encountered.’
As told to Kemper Edwards (08/06/19)
Roberto Lorenzi (Figaro)
Simona Mihai (Countess)
Wallis Giunta (Cherubino)