By Dustin Jussila
There are many staples of a classical opera that are preserved throughout the ages: Gossip, scheming, jealousy, and revenge are all major themes to present just a few. The Marriage of Figaro is no exception, and indeed this opera should be the benchmark that all others should strive to meet. Sung in the classical Italian operatic style, but contemporary enough to not feel dated. Enough hilarity that all audiences will appreciate, this performance should set your standards on what an opera should be.
Image courtesy of Cameron MacRae
Set amongst an immense white mansion, The Marriage of Figaro sets its stage with young Figaro, who hopes to marry the servant girl of the deceitful Count Almavia. Of course, it is never that simple, as the Count also has his eyes on his Figaro’s sweetheart. A comedic disaster results, as Figaro, his beloved Susanna, the Count’s wife, and others collude to get back at the unfaithful Count. Naturally, nothing goes according to plan as the audience is left watching helpless, as they bumble through every misunderstanding and misidentification in their vain attempts at payback.
It’s been 22 years since The Marriage of Figaro was performed by the Edmonton Opera, and the company has picked up some impressive talent for its return. Peter Dala, Maestro of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, does an excellent job of orchestrating Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s composition. Brianna Kolybaba is the scenery designer for the performance. She deserves much acclaim for presenting this Opera’s environment, should your eyes ever fall away from the actors. You will appreciate her focus on presenting thoughtful, yet unashamedly bold backdrops that do not overwhelm the audience.
This opera, and its performers, are presenting a classic situational comedy act. The standout performance was clearly Caitlin Wood, who not only is an exceptional soprano, but also demonstrated excellent comedy in her acting repertoire. The other actors had excellent comedic performances as well, which is incredible when you consider that they are all singing in the traditional opera style of Italian. Though, I wonder if the decision to cast a woman for the male character Cherubino (who has major scenes wearing women’s clothing) was deliberate, to not overshadow a lot of the subtler comedic elements of the play.
The Marriage of Figaro beautifully balances traditional opera elements that audiences would expect, but with enough twists and turns along the way to keep their eyes peeled to the stage. This production is a great calamity, where if it wasn’t as delightful as one of the most cherished operas, it would succeed in this century as a comedy on the silver screen.
Banner Photo Courtesy of Cameron MacRae