I had forgotten how much fun it is to listen to Mozart! I am by no means an opera buff, but I can readily testify that the North Carolina Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro, co-produced with Opera Saratoga and performed at Raleigh’s A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater), is an unqualified success. Whether performed by the full orchestra (conducted by Steven Jarvi) or by Laurie Rogers on harpsichord, every musical number was first-rate!
The acting, directed by Matthew Ozawa, is superb. The principals all masterfully coordinate their gestures, facial expressions, and body language with the words that they are singing (no mean feat!). One quick example of Ozawa’s attention to detail: there is a scene in which several maid-servants deliver flowers to the Count, and each young woman has a distinct, individual approach. This brief glimpse into their personalities is a nice touch.
The set is ornate yet uncluttered, and the transitions between locations (performed behind closed curtains) are quick. Costumes (coordinated by Denise Schumaker) are wonderfully period-appropriate and character-specific. The opera is sung in Italian, and English translation supertitles appear projected above the stage.
The action takes place on the day on which Figaro is to be married, but to whom? This comic opera is a hysterically tangled web of love, lust, mistaken identity, and intrigue. The Count lusts after Susanna, who is to be married to Figaro, who is pursued by Marcellina, who has a legal contract requiring that Figaro marry her unless certain financial obligations are met.
Meanwhile, Cherubino lusts after Susanna and the Countess and, for that matter, every other woman with whom he comes in contact. Several plots are hatched and foiled. Will everyone get what they want? For that matter, will anyone get what they want? Will this comedy end in marriage and/or reconciliation? If so, who will marry whom?
Le nozze di Figaro, with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and an Italian libretto written by Lorenzo Da Ponte, is based on a stage comedy La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro (“The Mad Day, or The Marriage of Figaro”) by Pierre Beaumarchaise.
This production features several golden voices, including the principals: Steven LaBrie as Count Almaviva, D’Ana Lombard as Countess Almaviva, Tyler Simpson as Figaro, Jennifer Cherest as Susanna, Jennifer Panara as Cherubino, Donald Hartmann as Doctor Bartolo, Alissa Anderson as Marcellina, Wade Henderson as Don Basilio, Derek Jackenheimer as Don Curzio, Kathleen Jasinskas as Barbarina, and Eugene Galvin as Antonio.
The show lasts a little over three hours (including one 15-minute intermission). If you are new to opera, the North Carolina Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro is an excellent first taste. If you are a bit gunshy of the idea of attending opera, think of this show as a three-hour music video, and come on down! It’s well worth the time!
The North Carolina Opera presents Mozart’s THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO at 3 p.m. March 5 in A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $25-$99, except $15 Student Rush Tickets sold at the door, starting two hours before curtain.
BOX OFFICE: Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/1162090.
Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.