Theatre at UBC
The Marriage of Figaro
by W. A. Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
with The UBC Opera Ensemble & The UBC Symphony Orchestra performing at
the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts from Feb. 25-28
by Stefan Moraw
Sometimes it happens in the history of theater and music to find yourself in front of a miraculous opera that amazingly expresses a number of values with harmonic balance. This is what we see in "The Marriage of Figaro", a masterpiece of musical beauty which achieves to part from the events of the age in which it was composed (the years before the French Revolution) and talk about life and its affections, love and pain, passion, betrayal and goodness of heart.
Trying to summarize the plot in a paragraph would seem diminishing and unfair to the author himself, as this is really a comedy that strives to go beyond the trivial lives of its characters. However, perhaps like Lorenzo da Ponte's life, this story basically carries one scandal after another with the women leading the men around by the collar waiting to pull the choke chain. Having said this by the end of the fourth act, none of the characters had lost their dignity, and this is what makes the whole story seem so realistically lifelike. All of them were given the chance to redeem themselves, some more than others, from their sometimes amoral and non-trustworthy behaviors.
The UBC Symphony Orchestra and the Opera Ensemble can be extremely proud of their performance. They were surprisingly delightful and the whole production, from a technical point of view, went off without a hitch. For someone like myself who has had the opportunity to attend "The Marriage of Figaro" in the Opera House in Vienna, it was quite a pleasure to acknowledge the level of competence of these students.
All cast members are to be congratulated for their opening night performance; however, the greatest applause goes to the ladies. Of special note is the performance of Kimberly Webb, whose voice carried her role as Countess Almaviva to great heights, and Sandra Stringer as Cherubino. Two different casts will be presenting this production on alternating dates.
Although Italian is the official language of Opera, the choice of English has kept us active participants throughout the events. The scenography was simple but plausible at the same time and, interesting enough, the 18th century setting did not appear to contrast with the three year old Chan Centre.
High recognition goes to the orchestra, conducted by Jesse Reid. One must not forget that opera is like giving birth to twins--the music and the actors both feel each other and without one, the other would not function. Despite the fact the music and the play were written at different times by different people, the harmony created between the two is overwhelming.
We wish good luck to all those who participated to this production and hope that they will be as much enjoyed by their European audience this summer as they have been at home.