Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
Opera buffa in four acts in Italian
At the Lyric Opera Chicago
The perfect cast excels in the perfect opera
My favorite opera – The Marriage of Figaro – is a joyous romp filled with lovable characters, sublime music (three and a half hours of Mozart -who could ask for anything more?) and superb voices. Seeing Figaro is like spending an afternoon in heaven! The angels couldn’t have sounded better.
Mozart (music) and da Ponte (libretto) wrote Figaro in 1784 and it was first produced in Vienna on May 1, 1786. It quickly became a major hit propelling Mozart into opera stardom. The Lyric Opera’s splendid production has all the opulence of 18th Century Europe with period-perfect costumes and rich sets by John Bury with wigs and makeup by Richard Jarvie.
Figaro contains sweet music, sardonic comedy, and a stinging reflections on love and life — Mozart demonstrates his genius with this masterwork.
I agree with the quote: “Figaro, the count’s whip-smart valet, is set to marry Susanna, the Countess’s comely maid. But the Count wants Susanna for himself! Enter Figaro with a scheme that cuts him off at the pass and teaches everyone a lesson!” Figaro has a terrific story filled with plausible situations and funny bits.”
Besides the melodic, sophisticated score, Lyric Opera has cast Figaro with fabulous actors who are also major star singers. Kyle Ketelsen has the charm and machismo to go alone with his impressive bass-baritone voice. Danielle De Niese commands the stage as the spirited and beautiful Susanna. She captures our hearts with her charm and her strong magnetic appeal. Her soprano soars.
Anne Schwanewilms’ Countess Almaviva was impeccably sung and acted by the veteran soprano. Mariusz Kwiecien playboys the scheming Count Almaviva with a devilish twist. His baritone rocks the house. Joyce DiDonato plays the page boy Cherubino deliciously while her mezzo-soprano is clear and sharp. You’d be hard pressed to find a more polished production–so wonderfully staged filled with many hilarious and truthful moments.
If you can only see one opera this year–let it be The Marriage of Figaro at the Lyric Opera – its like being on a cloud on the way to heaven. What a wonderful afternoon of art I experienced–I only wish all of you were with me to share this special work.
At the Lyric Opera Chicago, 20 N. Wacker, Chicago, IL, call 312- 332-2244, www.lyricopera.org, tickets $20 – $207, Running time is 3 hours, 40 minutes with intermission, through March 27, 2010