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This production reworked from the 1991 version by Michael McCaffery with witty designs by Paul

Posted on 22 August 2010

This production, reworked from the 1991 version by Michael McCaffery, with witty designs by Paul Edwards, moves into farce with an account of life on the moon exactly as an idiot like Buonfede would expect to find it.Philip Salmon appears as a Darth Vadar Emperor, and space-suited travellers take giant steps for mankind. Specially delightful, however, was the sisters’ emergence from the crashed rocket as from a carriage arriving at a Vienna ball.The phoney moon-man Ecclettico (Mark Tucker) – a rogue as unshockable and wily as Figaro – kept the farce under control (the tenor Mark Tucker is, helpfully, Venetian on his mother’s side). His ludicrous victim Buonafede (Jonathan Veira) was prevented from going over the top by a throat infection which limited him to the recitative – the arias were sung from the pit, admirably, by Charbel Mattar. Both sisters, the American Joyce Guyer and Margaret Preece, were vocally lustrous, but Nerys Jones as the maid Lisetta (like Frederike von Stade in the Dohnanyi recording) nearly stole the show.Figaro on Wednesday shared Il Mondo’s great virtue – it was essentially an ensemble production. However, it was entirely true to Mozart’s intentions that the goings-on at Aguasfrescas were dominated by the Susanna of Hulda Bjork Gardarsdottir.

What a find – she communicated the same sense of enjoyment in the role as Audrey Mildmay in the old Glyndebourne records. No wonder the Count (Peter Savidge) looks at her dancing the fandango with such longing. Franzita Whelan (Countess) contributed an exquisite “Dov├┐ sono” and was unusually convincing in the by-play with Cherubino – she appeared (rightly) deeply moved during “Voi che sapete”.Figaro himself (Mark Stone) was emphatically the lover rather than the schemer (he looked genuinely clueless in the Act II ensemble, and indeed compared to the women he is, surely, a bit thick). “Aprite un po quegl’occhil” was the highpoint of a fourth Act spoilt by a lack of poetry in the design – the sets throughout were lacklustre, but Stephen Unwin (director) made up for that with ingenious use of Garsington’s landscape.. In 1967, America basked in self-congratulation applauding a melodrama in which a wealthy white American girl announced to Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy that their prospective son-in-law was a handsome, well-mannered research physician who was – wait – black, in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. These days, another kind of marriage is making Hollywood happy: the one between single straight women and gay men: a sort of Guess Who’s Coming to Cook Dinner.

In 1967, America basked in self-congratulation applauding a melodrama in which a wealthy white American girl announced to Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy that their prospective son-in-law was a handsome, well-mannered research physician who was – wait – black, in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. These days, another kind of marriage is making Hollywood happy: the one between single straight women and gay men: a sort of Guess Who’s Coming to Cook Dinner.
The bachelor with the spatula has replaced the diamond as a girl’s best friend. Previously restricted to either flapping their wrists or slitting them, gay men are the ultimate accessory for Hollywood women on the lookout for that special someone who can commiserate about men and communicate with women. In other words, someone to dish the dirt and wash the dishes.It’s taken decades for Hollywood to countenance homosexuals in anything other than pathologised, problem pictures. Mind you, while late-Nineties glossy magazines embraced the multiple titillations of lesbian chic declaring it “glam to be gay”, mainstream dyke dramas are still nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, as the resolutely heterosexual buddy-buddy genre is seen to be running out of steam, buddy-biddy pictures are on the rise.This fashionable combination didn’t appear out of thin air. The Aids pandemic allowed stronger screen representations of gay men but buddy-biddy signs have been loitering with intent for some time.Thirties and Forties comedies are filled with subtextual homosocial relationships but Shelagh Delaney virtually created the “out” genre, albeit in a gritty, black-and-white kind of a way.

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