It’s Figaro’s wedding day – or is it? Poor, honest to the core, Figaro, is as a happy man, as any prospective groom would expect to be on his wedding day. That is, until he realises his master, Count Almaviva, to whom he is deeply loyal, holds carnal desires towards his beloved bride-to-be, Susanna!
Figaro’s troubles are growing because, should he not be able to repay a huge debt to the housekeeper, Marcellina, he will be forced to marry her instead of his true love. Meanwhile, the longsuffering and beautiful Countess finds herself the object of pageboy Cherubino’s desire.
Opera North’s production of Mozart’s comedy, The Marriage of Figaro, is a sublime mix of wit, pace and pitch and pathos. The opera is wonderfully portrayed by the talented and dedicated permanent ensemble of chorus, orchestra and backstage staff, rooted in the North. The orchestra, conducted by James Hendry plays the magnificent music which blends perfectly with the international artists, including Irish soprano Máire, Flavein (Countess), Welsh soprano Fflur Wyn (Susanna), Dutch Baritone Quirijin de Land (the Count), and, from New Zealand, baritone Philip Rhodes (Figaro).
Mozart did not cast Cherubino as a boy … and Heather Lowe beautifully portrays the comic high spirits, and the angst of the testosterone driven Cherubino as he persistently pursues the innocent Countess.
Mozart’s blissful farce of mistaken identity, misunderstanding and comic twists is bursting at the seams with invention in this beautifully designed production by Jo Davies (Kiss Me, Kate). Sets by Leslie Travers provide the contextual differences in class between Figaro’s bedroom and that of the Count and Countess’s, as do the costumes by Gabrielle Dalton. The lighting by James Farncombe provided changing times of day enhancing the romantic scenes not only in the Grand Room when the rain on the window reflects the anguish in Susanna’s voice but also in the seductive and secluded garden.
The difference in class is also apparent in a household where the aristocrats are somewhat naïve, apart from the Count’s lustful obsessions of course! The servants are in fact the masters of the household. The shrewd Susanna, who is the Countess’s personal maid, devises a plan where she and her mistress swap clothing and by doing so swap identities in order to teach their men a lesson. As in all good farces this leads to all sorts of misinterpretations, mayhem and mix ups. Will the Marriage of Figaro happen?
As one of the great ensemble operas Mozart’s exalted comedy is one which has introduced many people to a lifelong love of opera.
Reviews were mixed when The Marriage of Figaro was first performed at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 1st May 1786 but happily, this performance, at the Lowry Theatre, was exceptionally well received.★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Opera North is at The Lowry, Salford Quays from 10-14 March 2020.
Tue 10 Mar The Marriage of Figaro 7.00pm
Wed 11 Mar The Turn of the Screw 7.30pm
Thu 12 Mar The Marriage of Figaro (audio-described) 7.00pm
Fri 13 Mar Street Scene (captioned) 7.00pm
Sat 14 Mar The Marriage of Figaro 7.00pm