The Marriage of Figaro: an opera review by Victor Grynberg

January 31, 2022 by Victor Grynberg
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is widely regarded as the third member of the greatest classical composers trio, along with Johann Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven.

A child prodigy, whose music is much loved 230 years after he died, there was no field in which he didn’t excel. Whether it was symphonies , concertos, chamber music, religious works or operas, Mozart stands out.

And The Marriage of Figaro is widely regarded as one of the greatest operas ever written. In 2017 BBC News Magazine did a poll of172 leading opera singers to vote for their choice of the best operas ever . The Marriage of Figaro came out top.

So the job here is to assess the performance I saw and report on whether this newest production by AO did it justice.

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The resounding audience applause at the conclusion of what is a very long piece confirmed this writer’s enthusiastic view.

So many elements need to come together to put on a production, especially at such a famed theatre as the Joan Sutherland.

This new production was conceived by world-acclaimed Scottish Director Sir David Mc Vicar and very well revived by Opera Australia regular Andy Morton.

Jenny Tiramani from England was responsible for the ageless and spectacular court clothes and set for this production set in a Seville palace.

All the accoutrements are well and good but it will be on the quality of the music and singing that opera lovers will judge this.

Much loved Italian conductor Andrea Molino led the always excellent Opera Australia. The enlarged pit definitely allows a better-balanced sound to emanate from it.

The style of music supporting the singers means that there is no hiding a less than first-class voice. No problems here.

Italian baritone Mario Cassi (unusual for a baritone to be the lead ) makes his OA debut as the Count in this role and no wonder he was brought here.  As a singer and actor, he was the full package. Bravo.

Just as pleasing was Ekaterina Morozova as his long-suffering wife. Another very welcome debutante for OA.

This opera is a French farce brought to the world of Opera so it is full of all the characteristics of a farce. Hidden characters, locked doors, jealous suitors and more. At the centre of all this are servants Figaro and Susanna. She needs all her wits about her to prevent the Count from seducing her.

In these critical roles are Italian bass-baritone Tommaso Barea and local favourite soprano Stacey Alleaume. With a clear voice and effortlessly hitting the right notes they were both a visual and aural delight.

A really well cast group provided great support. Notably Agnes Sarkis in the trouser role as the young page Cherubino, Sian Sharp as Marcellina, Richard Anderson as Dr Bartolo and Benjamin Rasheed as Don Basilio.

As we’ve come to expect the choir and other support were beautifully rehearsed and did not skip a beat.

So this opera, a hit since its Premiere in 1786 continues to be extremely satisfying and enjoyable .

4 ½ stars


Joan Sutherland Theatre

Sydney Opera House

January 27 2022

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