Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Marriage of Figaro, Victorian Opera, July 18, 2012 ***

The Marriage of Figaro, Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, by Victorian Opera
Playhouse Theatre, Arts Centre, Melbourne; July 18, 20, 24, 28, 30, Aug 1 & 3, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on July 18
Stars: ***

The Marriage of Figaro is one of Mozart’s most popular operas and, although this production has some accomplished singers and a polished orchestra, Jean-Pierre Mignon’s direction is conventional and unimaginative, lacking the shifts in comic and dramatic tempo that characterise this opera.

Richard Gill deftly and assuredly conducts the lively Ludovico’s Band, a baroque ensemble that lends authenticity by playing Mozart’s complex orchestrations on instruments known during his period, providing a different tone from that of a contemporary orchestra.

The action takes place in 24 hours when Figaro (Andrew Collis) is to marry his sweetheart Susanna (Jacqueline Porter) but his master, Count Almaviva (Brett Carter) asserts his ‘droit du seigneur’, a rule permitting him to bed Figaro’s bride.

Carter’s tone is rich and strong as the Count, Tiffany Speight has fine vocal control as Countess Almaviva, Collis’s Figaro has velvety depth, Roxane Hislop’s Marcellina is fiery, while Jacqueline Porter’s Susanna is playful.

The production misses the requisite light and shade, often leaving the singers stranded without a convincing concept, style or interpretation to provide a solid base to the performance.

Perhaps the aim was to present the opera in a style closer to that of Mozart's era, but the singers too often simply stand and deliver Mozart’s fine arias, the relationships and characters are underdeveloped and the production does not effectively contrast or balance the potential for broad comedy with its more serious issues.

Kate Herbert


 Creative team
Richard Gill conductor
Director – Jean-Pierre Mignon
Set Designer – Richard Roberts
Costume Designer – Christina Smith
Lighting Designer – Paul Jackson
Assistant Conductor – Daniel Carter
Assistant Director – Cameron Menzies
Victorian Opera Chorus
Ludovico’s Band 

Count Almaviva – Brett Carter
Countess Almaviva – Tiffany Speight
Susanna – Jacqueline Porter
Figaro – Andrew Collis
Cherubino – Dimity Shepherd
Marcellina – Roxane Hislop
Dr Bartolo – David Woloszko
Don Basilio – Jonathan Bode
Don Curzio – Daniel Todd
Barbarina – Emily Uhlrich 
Antonio - Oliver Mann

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