(Le Nozze Di Figaro)
Opera buffa in four acts in Italian
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
Conductor: Henrik Nanasi
Stage Director: Barbara Gaines
At the Lyric Opera of Chicago
Opulent, hilarious romp about sex, trust and honesty becomes a joyous bedroom farce
Director Barbara Gaines and the creatives at the Lyric Opera of Chicago decided to emphasize the buffa (comedy) in Mozart’s 1784 opera, The Marriage of Figaro. With an eye-popping new production featuring a terrific set (designed by James Noone) with vividly over-the-top costumes (designed by Susan Mickey) and a mostly new cast of fine comics as well as wonderful singers, this new production of the Mozart classic opera unfolds as a funny, tuneful treat. To see a fresh take on this opera, which plays for the cute sexy humor while breathing a freshness into the work is a fine choice. The opening night audience enthusiastically took to the production that even garnered laughs from the modernistic phrases used in the super titles!
Of course, conductor Henrik Nanasi (making his American debut) has the Lyric’s orchestra in full touch with Mozart from the vigorous overture throughout the three hour and forty-five minutes. Listening to Mozart is akin to spending time in heaven!
Figaro is a battle of the sexes, and a battle of servants versus their masters that finds the servants as smarter with more guile. The plot is filled with loads of mistaken identities, morals, and manners being questioned and tested. We see the clever servant Susanna ( the golden voiced soprano Christiane Karg) handling her fiance, Figaro (the lovable Adam Plachetka, a terrific comic turn by the bass-baritone), also maneuvering with both Susanna and the Count Almaviva (the bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni) for love, marriage and dominance. The complex story has many players. The Countess Almaviva ( powerful soprano Amanda Majeski), the funny and adventurous Rachel Frenkel in a trouser role as the young adventurous Cherubino, as well as Brindley Sherratt’s strong bass as Bartolo, each keep the mayhem going throughout.
Mozart’s glorious score yields wonderful arias that were beautifully sung by this cast of both young and new performers. I was impressed with the all-around acting/singing by Luca Pisarcini, Amanda Majeski and Bradley Smoak. But this production is lead by two strong performances: Christine Karg and Rachel Frenkel.
This is a lighter Figaro than usually mounted, making it more fun to watch. It still, of course, contains the fabulous Mozart music and the hauntingly electrifying arias. The energy, the freshness, and cleverness makes this production of The Marriage of Figaro a major triumph! Director Barbara Gaines’ first non-Shakespeare opera is a success. Come see this and re-discover the magnificence of Mozart.
At the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Civic Opera House, 10 N. Wacker, Tickets: $39 – $329, (312) 827-5600; www.lyricopera.org
Run time: 3 hours and 35 minutes, with one intermission.