Bard on the Beach
The Marriage of Figaro

Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, arranged by Richard Balcombe, libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
In Italian

Dates and Venue 29 August & 5 September 2011, at 1pm and 7 pm | Vanier Park

Figaro Jordan Collalto Susanna Anne Marie MacIntosh Countess Kayleigh Harrison Count Richard Petroski Cherubino Evanna Chiew Marcellina Alys Richard Bartolo Christopher Van Wyck Basilio Andrew Robb Barbarina Ana Toumine Curzio Eric Schwarzhof Antonio Giuseppe Zapone Also featured Members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra

Conductor Leslie Dala Director Nancy Hermiston Host Christopher Gaze Set design Kevin McAllister Costumes Ines Ortner Wigs Elke Englicht

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson

Clever, witty and insouciant, The Marriage of Figaro is the perfect choice for a summer's day.  Add the energy and charm of  UBC's talented opera students and you have magic.

As with previous productions of Opera & Arias, the opera is semi-staged and sharply cut with the inimitable Christopher Gaze narrating the story, summarizing the missing bits and translating the gist of the arias.  The cuts and joins in the music were smooth and unobtrusive.  Leslie Dala conducts the small orchestra on stage, behind the singers.  

The opera is double-cast, again the norm for UBC Opera, except for Jordan Collalto who plays the title role in all performances.  On Monday afternoon his easy, likeable Figaro was in comfortable partnership with Anne Marie MacIntosh's pert and pretty Susanna.  Together they set the stage for Mozart's clever version of Beaumarchais' play.

Mezzo Evanna Chiew tackled the trousers role of the page Cherubino with impish style and secure technique.  Both 'Non so più' and 'Voi che sapete' were crystal clear.

Kayleigh Harrison's heart-broken, heart-breaking Countess Almaviva introduced more complex emotions, elegantly conveying her distress in 'Porgi, amor' and a soaring 'Dove sono'.

She was matched by Richard Petroski's very interesting interpretation of the villain Count depicting a man who behaves extremely badly because he cannot find the words to approach his wife.   So the wonderful, climactic moment of this opera, when the Count asks for forgiveness from the Countess and everyone holds their breath for the answer, was heart-stopping.

Alys Richards (Marcellina), Christopher Van Wyck (Bartolo) and a too, too 18th century  Basilio (Andrew Robb) brought pizzazz to the comic sub-plot. Ana Toumine (Barbarina) , Eric Schwarzhof (Curzio) and Guiseppe Zapone (Antonio) were equally convincing in their roles, rounding out a strong cast with a real Mozartian sensibility and excellent Italian diction.

One of the advantages of such an intimate venue as the Bard tent is the clarity of all the lines both in the orchestra and in ensemble singing.  Particular pleasures came from the wind section and Ariel Barnes's continuo-playing - not that David Boothroyd's harpsichord , the timpani and the strings were not up to scratch.  They were.  Leslie Dala's rapport with his young singers, even with his back turned to them, was remarkable and the members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra supported them in every way. 

The wigs and costumes ranged from good to not so good, and Nancy Hermiston's direction had not solved all the problems of working with the existing space.  These were minor flaws in an otherwise most enjoyable production.  


© 2011 Elizabeth Paterson