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Review: Opera Carolina’s ‘Marriage of Figaro’ entertains

March 19, 2009

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    March 19, 2009
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    Opera Carolina News

Review: Opera Carolina’s ‘Marriage of Figaro’ entertains

Over-active libidos, catchy arias and an outstanding performance: put these together, and you have the three main elements of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.”

This past Thursday, Opera Carolina in uptown Charlotte performed a fresh presentation of “Figaro,” an 18th century chef d’oeuvre by Mozart that serves as a sequel to Carolina’s January production of Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.”“Figaro,” was produced under the guidance of renowned conductor James Meena.

To give a brief overview of “Figaro,” let’s imagine a scene that unravels three years after “The Barber” and recounts a single day in the palace of Count Almaviva.

Figaro has entered into Count Almaviva’s service where he serves as his personal attendant and the concierge of his castle. Figaro is engaged to the beautiful Suzanne, who is the Countess’ chambermaid. The Count eventually ceases to desire his wife and becomes attracted to Suzanne. The Count realizes that he could use the right of “primae noctis” to his advantage (this is an alleged legal right that allowed a lord to take the virginity of those in his estate). With the help of the Countess’ crooked music teacher, Basilio, the Count inches his way toward Suzanne.

When Suzanne finds out, she reveals everything to her fiancé Figaro and the Countess. Eventually, the Count fails to seduce Suzanne and throws himself at his wife’s feet, begging for forgiveness. Meanwhile, Figaro and Suzanne marry and live happily ever after. 

What makes “Figaro” such an amazing opera, apart from its witticisms, is the simplicity of the musical score. Whereas the orchestral and vocal selections are much more complex in “The Barber,” “Figaro” keeps the musical gymnastics at a minimum.

“Mozart’s music is made up of uncomplicated ingredients,” Meena said during an interview with The Charlotte Observer. “But there’s nothing simplistic about what Mozart does with them. It’s so simple, it’s brilliant.” 

The stage setting was somwehat untraditional, providing for an immediacy that most viewers cannot experience at a more orthodox opera presentation. The orchestra pit was elevated so that its floor leveled off with the main stage, and the orchestra performed behind the cast.

The costume design by AT Jones included beautiful wigs, wardrobes and makeup. The director decided to forego typical sets and replace them with simple furniture.

According to Meena, Opera Carolina saved approximately $80,000 by not having elaborate sets and experienced stagehands for the performance. 

“Opera Carolina’s production of ‘Figaro’ did not disappoint,” Nolan Boyd ’12, who also attended the Thursday night showing, said.

“The singers had strong voices, and the opera’s more comedic aspects kept the audience entertained in between the arias. Mozart’s music, of course, was a triumph,” Boyd continued, I thoroughly enjoyed “Figaro,” though at certain points, the orchestral music slightly overpowered the vocal harmonies.

The hard work and dedication of all actors, including Ailyn Pérez (Countess Almaviva), Kristopher Irmiter (Figaro) and Anne-Carolyn Bird (Susanna), were deservedly and wildly applauded. 

I urge you to take a drive out to Charlotte and see Carolina’s next performance of Puccini’s famous “Turandot” on April 16, 18 and 19. 

By Ben Ireland
The Davidsonian