Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Brunch – Le Nozze di Figaro: Sull' Aria

Hillevi Martinpelto

Alison Hagley

This musically stylish Le Nozze di Figaro is led by John Eliot Gardiner. I personally find the two-dimensional sets and overdone makeup annoying and a little disturbing. Perhaps in 1993 the production folks didn't think about things like camera close-ups.  And Hillevi Martinpelto (Countess) should sue the wig maker! 

Regardless of the look (and actually this clip doesn't look that bad), the performances are marvelous. Alison Hagley appears as Susanna on two DVDs (a Glyndebourne production with Renée Fleming and Gerald Finley), but these Figaros and a Pelleas et Mellisande are just about all the available video of her. That's a shame because, she is an expressive singer and a talented actress—clearly a Susanna to be reckoned with (right up there with Miah Persson!)

Martinpelto has made audio recordings of all the big Mozart soprano roles (and some Bach, too) and appears as Donna Anna in a Glyndebourne Don Giovanni DVD. These two sopranos have very similar voices, which works nicely here in this well-known duet and in the Act 4 Finale. 

Gardiner takes a brisk tempo, but the duetto flows as smoothly and lightly as the gentle breezes, with a sweet ever-so-slight hesitation on the last little high notes. Bryn Terfel and Rodney Gilfrey also star in this Théâtre du Chatelet performance.


  1. It's a great loss to opera that Ms. Hagley did not perform or record more. She's probably my all time favourite Susanna. Rod Gilfrey is pretty impressive on that recording too. He hasn't recorded too much either but he did do an amazing St. Francois d'Assise a few years ago.

  2. Now I am really curious about what happened to her. I found this group message board:

    which is only marginally helpful but it's about the only thing I could find that was not specifically about her recordings.

    hmmmmm A new blog series: Whatever Happened to...?

    1. I think it's quite straightforward. She decided to stay home and raise her kids. I think I read somewhere that she's quite religious which may have influenced her view of marriage and her role in it.

    2. Well, there you go! I respect her decision, but it was a sad one for the opera world! At least we do have a few recordings to savor.


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