Seattle Opera presents an energetic and exhilarating version of Mozart’s opera Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). The New Zealand Opera production, directed by Aidan Lang, features a well-balanced cast which included some former Seattle Opera Young Artists.
The appearance of The Marriage of Figaro in Vienna in 1786 (only three years before the outbreak of the French Revolution) was a sock in both the social and musical level. The plot subverts the rationale behind the morals and the social establishment of that time, portraying nobility and servants at the same level and pointing out clearly the sins of the Old Regime authority. Vocally, Mozart surprised audiences with scenes which put together on scene even seven characters singing at the same time. The genius of Salzburg used as well some of the resources of the opera seria, such as the accompanying fortepiano or the recitativo (speaking style). He perfectly combined typical ABA-type baroque arias with martial marches, dancing music and popular singing in order to create a fair image of the romantic and social relationships of his time. The result was one of the best pieces of music ever composed.
Last Sunday at the McCall Hall in Seattle, the vocal cast was rich and homogeneous, without any remarkable mistake. It’s fair to highlight the work of baritone Aubrey Allicock as Figaro and soprano Caitlin Lynch as The countess. Mr Allicock showed a good technique and a nice young sound, somehow too simple. There’s still a long way ahead for him, although his Figaro was simply delightful. Ms Lynch, with an opulent sound in the low register and a tasteful style, merited the applause after her delicate rendition of the aria Dove sono.
Laura Tatulescu made her debut in Seattle with Susana. The role matches nicely her vocal features and her energetic and cunning Susana was one of the highlights of the production. John Moore made his company debut depicting an appealing and believable Almaviva and was especially hailed after the last act when he appeared as a hilarious Dracula. His voice ran easily and sounded round and fair. Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Pojanowski made her company debut singing a plain Cherubino.
Bass Arthur Woodley surprised with his ample voice in the aria La vendetta (Vengeance) despite some too open notes. Margaret Gawrysiak (Marcelina) and Amanda Opuszynski (Barbarina) were two lovely maids whereas Charles Robert Austin (Antonio) made a priceless gardener, showing a great understanding with the audience.
With Maestro Gary Thor Wedow at the podium, the musicians from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Philip Kelsey (fortepiano) delivered a stirring and joyful rendition of the score. However, we missed a better complicity with the singers on stage.
The set design, created by Robin Rawstorne, found out a sort of elegance in simplicity and allowed artists to move around freely, like being actually at home. The costume design was fresh and colorful, mixing patterns of the period with modern items and materials.
Aidan Lang made a remarkable effort to make The Marriage of Figaro approachable to different kinds of spectators, being at the same time faithful to the Mozart’s masterpiece. Along with the enthusiasm of this young group of singers, the Seattle Opera company got a notable success.
Carlos J. Lopez