Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro
Dates and Venue 24, 27, 29 April & 1, 4 May 2010 at 7.30pm | Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver
Libretto Lorenzo da Ponte based on the comedy by Pierre Augustin Beaumarchais Music Director and Conductor Jonathan Darlington Stage Director Chris Alexander Associate Conductor/Chorus Director Leslie Dala Scenic/Costume Designer Susan Benson Lighting Designer Adrian Muir Stage Manager Sheila Munn
Reviewer Ed Farolan
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro has delighted audiences worldwide since its premiere in Vienna's Burgtheater on May 1, 1786. It was first performed by Vancouver Opera on November 19, 1964. This romantic comic masterpiece labeled commedia per musica has traces of opera buffa based on the commedia dell'arte in its use of age-old devices of disguise and guile to overcome obstacles and bring lovers together in the tradition of operatic romance.
This original Italian-language offering (with English surtitles) was indeed a funny and effervescent production of the Vancouver Opera, delivered by internationaly-acclaimed Canadian performers, with the exception of Bass Andrew Stewart (Antonio) who hails from London, England:
Abbotsford-born soprano Rhoslyn Jones (Countess Almaviva) captivated the opening night audience with her vocally and theatrically impressive arias, while Baritone Aaron St.Clair Nicholson (Count Almaviva), also from Abbotsford, BC, delighted us with his vigorous singing and delightful physical comedy.
Bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch (Figaro), was charismatic in his performance, so comically comfortable in his physicality, and his voice was amazingly resonant. His love interest, lyric coloratura soprano Nikki Einfeld (Susanna),was chaming and vulnerable, and she created perfect chemistry with her leading man, her true love, as she played the role of the Countess's beautiful young servant who escapes the clutches of the lustful Count.
Quebecoise mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne (Cherubino), a winner of the Prix Lyrique Français, was so agile playing a young man's role, and so expressive in her delivery, delighting the audience with her antics. .Mezzo-soprano Megan Latham (Marcellina), also from Abbotsford, sang with clarity and artistry. (It looks like if you want to be an opera star these days, you've got to go to Abbotsford!)
Bass-baritone Thomas Goerz (Dr. Bartolo), originally from Kitchener , Ontario , seemed to be a natural fit for his character. His voice, manner and stature made his performance most believable. Montreal tenor Michel Corbeil (Don Basilio/Don Curzio) performed confidently in both roles, and had a fine voice.. He was the recipient of the Prix Quilico and an award winner at the International Voice Competition in Marmande, France. Comox-born Soprano Melody Mercredi (Barbarina) exuded easy stage presence, perhaps because she sang in a rock band before her opera career.
The operatic version of Figaro was based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro, written in 1784. The play was banned in Vienna for its satire of the aristocracy. Despite this, the opera became one of Mozart’s most successful and beloved works, with its unforgettable melodies. Before the 3.5 hour show, Doug Tuck, Director of Marketing and Community Programs, gave some interesting insights about the colourful profile of Beaumarchais who, other than being a playwright and a libertine, was also a spy and an arms dealer aiding the American Revolution against the British.
Kudos to Vancouver Opera for a delightful production, and in particular to Conductor Jonathan Darlington and the orchestra, as well as the chorus members under the guidance of Leslie Dala, for a job well done!
© 2010 Ed Farolan