Opera Lyra wraps up their 30th Season with The Marriage of Figaro, an hilarious opera full of love, lust and betrayal! Should you see it?
My first exposure to Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro was like most of my peers, through the wondrous adventures of Bugs Bunny and The Looney Toons on the weekends. Once I was in high school the mandatory in class viewings of Amadeus started which included aspects of Mozart writing this legendary opera. It appears that pop culture was priming me to eventually take in this opera and experience it in its entirety.
Through the visionary eyes of Interim Artistic Director, Kevin Mallon, and Stage Director, Tom Diamond, Opera Lyra successfully reimagines Mozart’s epic comedy of Shakespearean proportions by moving it into the early 20th Century and giving it a Downtown Abbey twist. This doesn’t alter the music one bit, but allows for more drama to ensue on stage through the overture and at the transitional point of Acts.
The Marriage of Figaro follows the drama of young Figaro’s wedding day. Figaro, a servant to Count Almaviva is engaged to Susanna, a servant to The Countess however everyone seems to be standing in this young couple’s way. The Count, a notorious cheater, has his eyes set on the innocent Susanna, while a former housekeeper, Macellina, is quite infatuated with Figaro. Throw in a slew of comedic misunderstandings, a plot involving a young Army officer spending an entire Act in a dress and a whole heap of mirth and merriment and you have the comedy gold that was Opera Lyra’s The Marriage of Figaro.
The actors really were top notch. They were able to carry a necessary wit to their actions which only increased on the humorous situations Mozart set his characters in and while Figaro’s John Brancy and Susanna’s Sash Djihanian were amazing it was truly Wallis Giunta’s young and sweet Cherubino that stole the audience’s heart and adoration. The actors owned every inch of that stage and commanded your attention. The National Arts Centre Orchestra also did a phenomenal job with the musical accompaniment, especially the iconic opening overture.
One of my favourite aspects of going to the opera is the set and costume design, which are sometimes not valued as much as they should be. Yet with The Marriage of Figaro we are instantaneously transported into the early 20th Century with the exquisite costuming and the elaborately detailed and beautiful set, one that required four changes for each act. The size and magnificence of the set as well made me curious on how they were able to strike and replace it in only a three minute break between acts.
I have been to opera’s where by intermission the audience is just plain exhausted, but The Marriage of Figaro is not one of those operas. This staging of The Marriage of Figaro quickly became my favourite staging of any opera that Opera Lyra has ever put on. The kind of passion and innovation that was thrust into this production has really amped me up for next season which includes The Barber of Seville, another timeless opera introduced to me by the one and only Bugs Bunny and Beethoven’s only opera the politically intriguing Fidelio.
The Marriage of Figaro runs now at The National Arts Centre until March 28, 2015.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you thought. What did you think of The Marriage of Figaro? What’s your favourite opera? What opera would you like to see Opera Lyra do in the future? Join the discussion and let me know in the comments below.