Figaro is a man on the verge of great happiness. He is set to marry the love of his life, Sussana but trouble looms. Count Almaviva, Lord of the estate where Figaro resides, also has his eye on the lovely Sussana. Unbeknownst to Figaro, he is also the object of the housekeeper Marcellina’s affections. And she does not play fair!
Welcome to The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart’s and Da Pontes hilarious Opera. The plot line is highly convoluted but worth the focus.
Written in just 6 weeks, The Marriage of Figaro was ahead of its time. Although this version of the Opera is shorter than its original counterpart, the themes of aristocratic privilege, love, desire and forgiveness thread themselves through the music and libretto in a manner that is highly entertaining.
Some may find the spoken dialogue rather than recitatives disruptive, but I have to agree with director Michael Gows reasoning that it was better to minimise that operatic structure than to cut any of the arias, duets or trios. Regional touring requires some sacrifices. Other changes have also taken place. Gow has shortened the opera, he uses Australian accents and the opera is spoken in English. He has also used a children’s chorus to substitute the adult chorus of peasants from the village that come to celebrate the wedding of Figaro and Sussana. I think this is a fantastic idea. It allows children from regional Australia to perform. It’s a great way to involve the community and foster the arts among the next generation of performers. What better way to inspire young minds to think big and see that aspirations to perform with the Australian Opera are not ‘pipe dreams.’
Robert Kemp’s set design is simplistic but effective. A Goya inspired background that represents Seville Spain, Kemps fresco allows the quick transitions from interior to exterior to happen without jarring the pace of the Opera.
The performances on the whole were excellent. Celeste Lazarenko’s (Sussana) comic timing is fantastic, Kristen Leich is sharp, witty and dynamic as the desperate, love-struck Marcellina, Olivia Cranwell sparkles as the Countess and Agnes Sarkis is a stand out as the desperate, ill-fated lover of all women Cherubino. Brad Cooper’s portrayal of Don Basilio left the audience laughing and clamouring for more.
Perhaps one observation: a choreographer would have added an extra layer of style and sophistication to the piece. Subtle movement, character development and chemistry can all be enhanced with the skill of the right choreographer.
Other than that, enjoy!
Director: Michael Gow Conductor: Paul Fitzsimon Regional Children’s Chorus Master: Josh Van Konkelenberg Design: Robert Kemp Lighting Design: Matt Scott Orchestra Arrangement: Robert Greene
The Marriage of Figaro runs at Riverside until 20th August the begins continues its tour.
Lee Anderson – Theatre Now
19 – 20 Aug 2016
Friday 19 August 7:30pm
Saturday 20 August 7:30pm
Venue: Riverside Theatre