IT’S A MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN
Liz Coggins reviews Opera North’s amazing production of Mozart’s Opera The Marriage of Figaro
I have always thought of The Marriage of Figaro as one of those notoriously long opera’s that can often descend into fine tuned boredom.
It’s an opera that needs to move both artistically and musically and have pace, momentum and strong characterizations from its cast and Opera North has excelled itself with this production, which I can only describe as operatic excellence.
The Marriage of Figaro sets up one of the most tortuous love pentagons in dramatic history: Figaro loves Susanna, who loves him back, but who is lusted after in turn by the Count, whose wife the Countess loves him even though he’s unfaithful, and who in turn is lusted after by the teenage Cherubino, who’ll basically go after anything in a skirt.
It’s Figaro’s wedding day, and to add to the usual worries, he learns that his master, the Count, is out to bed his bride-to-be Susanna. The Countess is heartbroken by her husband’s faithlessness – but she is the object of the desires of page Cherubino. And Figaro is in trouble with the housekeeper, Marcellina, who has lent him money on the promise that, if he can’t repay her he will have to marry her.
Jo Davies production is seamless and the way she evolves the action has given a fresh take on what can sometimes be dusty fusty Mozart. The opening back of the set action invigorates the audience and sets their minds working as to what is going on.
Set Designer Leslie Travers has created a masterpiece: such smooth movement and the ingenious way each set moves into the next with seemingly little effort and perfect in every detail to the period and story – even the peeling wallpaper. I particularly liked the candle-lit garden set which was exactly I presume how Mozart intended it. All this combined with Gabrielle Dalton’s costume design and James Farncombe’s moody lighting provides a mind blowing canvass for the music and action.
The Marriage of Figaro is a great ensemble opera and the cast is an international one – each one perfectly fitting their role in both characterization and voice and its this that is the secret key to this opera’s success. Conductor Alexander Shelley moves to score quickly and at no time are we allowed to pause for breath before the next aria or chorus begins.
Jo Davies has retained the farcical element of the opera with some slick movement that enhances the production. It’s a robust production, full of vigour and energy that sparkles and excites. The Marriage of Figaro is an opera that certainly must not be missed.
Runs at the Grand Theatre until 27th February then on tour to Newcastle, The Lowery, Salford Keys and Nottingham.