I have had my heart broken a hundred times over by Countess Almaviva, fallen head over heels for Susanna, been bewitched by Cherubino, charmed by Figaro and occasionally even a little bit swayed by the Count. But right now the most beautiful moment of all for me in Le nozze di Figaro, the moment which makes me love Mozart the best, is not one of the arias on everyone's Mozart Arias recital disc, not one of the famed ensembles, not even the impossibly gorgeous way he blends two soprano voices in "Sull'aria". Instead it's an aria which is barely an aria, which gets cut off before it's properly finished, which moves the plot along somewhat but carries no great emotional weight: Barbarina's "L'ho perduta". I adore it. A teenaged girl stressing because she's lost a pin and doesn't want her cousin to yell at her. It doesn't require an aria at all, really — let alone one so full of moonlight and so exquisite I wish it would never end. Except that part of its beauty is that it does disappear again so quickly, gone almost before you've grasped how gorgeous it is. In an opera which is already a miracle, Mozart can do this, throw in something extra which you mighn't have expected but now wouldn't be without — how could there be a world without this aria, or a world without Figaro?
All this has been brought on by this afternoon's Met broadcast. I drifted in and out somewhat, but then with Figaro, I can. Like Virginia Woolf's Orlando, I've been through it so many times I can enter at any point, know where I am and be endlessly happy to be there. There are maybe only half a dozen operas which, without libretto in hand, I can follow line for line, but Figaro for the most part is one of them. Strangely enough I owe that in part to the Opera in English venture. Having listed to Acts II to IV (guess why) of their Figaro numerous times, the gaps in my Italian are filled by the Chandos translations — and even if they're inexact, or inelegant, or stupid, they work as a kind of aural surtitle and I always know what's going on. As much as one ever can in Figaro: there are still subtleties of letters and pavilions that I'm sure I haven't yet wrapped my mind around.
A nice performance if not the most incredible: of course this opera has more competition among my collection than any other except perhaps Die Fledermaus. Soile Isokoski's Contessa impressed me a whole lot more once I cranked up the volume; Andrea Rost was a little too clipped and chirpy a Susanna for me but sweet enough. Peter Mattei as the Count I thought was fantastic. John Relyea's Figaro left less of an impression of me than I expected but that's likely my fault rather than his. Alice Coote was a wonderful Cherubino, especially once I realised that she wasn't Joyce DiDonato and could stop wondering why, though I'm still obsessed with Joyce and Patrizia Ciofi's Amor e gelosia, she didn't sound familiar. (Speaking of Joyce DiDonato, may I just say: if the Met wants a Handel opera as a star vehicle it should forget this Renée Fleming Rodelinda thing and build something fabulous around the far worthier Joyce instead. Preferably with Patrizia Ciofi as love interest. Told you I was obsessed.)
Next week, of course, is Lohengrin which I'm very much looking forward to. Met broadcasts are the only time I listen to Wagner apparently: this, after Tannhäuser and Die Walküre last year, will be my third. But despite the lack of experience I love it wholeheartedly, if love is the right word. People go on about the length of Wagner operas and "all that shouting". The former I've not yet felt, the latter I've not yet heard. Lohengrin ought to be magnificent.