Since this is a opera about a married couple (even if they were only married about an hour), we--Herb and I, that is, decided to share both our opinions. We doubt that we'll be as scrappy as Figaro and Susanna, but we do hear music differently...
Pat: This is a good way to learn to love opera. What's not to love? The captivating music, the gorgeous costumes and set, and the preposterous plot make this opera a sheer delight.
Herb: Like the cases of mistaken identity, sexual confusion (one male character is played by a woman--a "pants part"-- who is required to disguise himself as a woman), and, let's not forget the surprise parentage?
Pat: As Jimmy Durante used to say, everybody wants to get into the act--and incredibly they do!
Herb: And the end of the second act with all those people singing/arguing at once is a perfect example of that.
Pat: Didn't you love the comic techniques from Shakespeare, the Marx Brothers, the Keystone cops, a little Upstairs Downstairs and the Mel Brooks' brand of lust ?
Herb: Speaking of lust, my favorite character was the Count.
Pat: The Count! The Villain?
Herb: He was just trying to have a nice tranquil life with the mistress of his choice, namely Susanna.
Pat: What about the Countess?
Herb: Her, too!
Pat: But he couldn't even tell them apart despite those transparent disguises.
Herb: He might still be trying to figure out who jumped out the window.
Pat: Or how Figaro could marry his mother!
Herb and Pat: I guess it's just one crazy day in the life of Figaro!
“La folle journée” (“The Crazy Day”) was the subtitle of Beaumarchais’ comedy on which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart based his opera, one of the greatest creations in the entire repertoire.
It centers on a single frantic day in the life of Aguas Frescas, the castle of Count Almaviva (baritone Mariusz Kwiecien). The Count has designs on Susanna (soprano Danielle de Niese), maid of the Countess (soprano Anne Schwanewilms). Susanna is to be married this very day to the count’s valet, Figaro (bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen), which doesn’t stand in the way of the Count’s keeping an assignation with her.
But he reckons without Figaro and Susanna who – aided by the Countess – conspire to teach the philandering Count a lesson. Others figuring prominently in the plot are the amorous young page, Cherubino (mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato); an older couple, Dr. Bartolo (bass Andrea Silvestrelli) and Marcellina (mezzo-soprano Lauren Curnow), who turn out to be Figaro’s parents, to his--and their-- amazement; Susanna’s devious music master, Basilio (tenor Keith Jameson); and Antonio, the Count’s gardener (baritone Philip Kraus).
Lyric Opera has presented Le nozze di Figaro eight times previously since 1957, most recently during the 2003-04 season. “Mozart’s sublimely human comedy will return in our witty and elegant Sir Peter Hall production,” says William Mason, General Director. “We’re thrilled by this season’s truly all-star cast, headed by Mariusz Kwiecien, who triumphed as Eugene Onegin here last year; Danielle de Niese, our dazzling Cleopatra last season; Anne Schwanewilms, luminous as Strauss’s Marschallin a few seasons ago; the vibrant young bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen; and of course, Joyce DiDonato, one of the world’s leading mezzo-sopranos – what a marvelous way to end the season!”
THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO / Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (in Italian with projected English translations)
Performances beginning at 7:30 p.m., except for matinees at 2:00 p.m.
March 9, 12 (mat.), 15, 18 (mat.), 20, 22, 24, 27.
The production will be conducted by Sir Andrew Davis (Feb. 28 and the March 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, and 20 performances) and Leonardo Vordoni (debut, March 15, 22, 24, and 27).
The performance will last three hours and forty-five minutes.
The original production is by Sir Peter Hall; Herbert Kellner is stage director, with sets and costumes by John Bury and lighting by Duane Schuler.
The Dr. and Mrs. Edwin J. DeCosta and the Walter E. Heller Foundation Production. Revival made possible by Mr. & Mrs. Dietrich M. Gross.
Photos: Dan Rest