Monday, August 05, 2013

Le nozze di Figaro

The cast of Le nozze di Figaro
Photo by Kristen Loken

Last Thursday evening I saw Merola Opera's The Marriage of Figaro. The cast wore handsome 18th century costumes, & the staging was traditional, with no odd surprises. 5 large wardrobes, which the cast rearranged between acts, formed the set & represented closets & doors. The cast's singing & acting were uniformly clean, strong & enthused. Bass-baritone John Arnold portrayed an angry Figaro. Soprano Maria Valdes was a solid, slightly aloof, Susanna. Baritone Joseph Lattanzi is an exuberant actor. His Count was appropriately arrogant, sneering & a bit suave. Mezzo Rihab Chaieb flirted playfully with the audience & was a beguiling, if not particularly masculine, Cherubino. Since the set had no windows, she ran off the stage into the auditorium to get out of the Countess's room. Soprano Jacqueline Piccolino as the Countess has a richly-colored voice & sang with a nicely connected line. Her 2 arias held me rapt. She was a committed actor, & I liked how the staging played up the attraction between her & Cherubino.

L to R: Daryl Freedman (Marcellina), Thomas Richards (Dr. Bartolo),
John Arnold (Figaro), Matthew Newlin (Don Curzio)
and Joseph Lattanzi (Count Almaviva)
Photo by Kristen Loken

Tenor Casey Finnigan was hilarious as a lightly mincing Don Basilio. His voice was clear & penetrating. It would have been fun to hear him do Basilio's traditionally cut aria. As Marcellina, mezzo Daryl Freedman's voice sounded fittingly broad & matronly. Bass-baritone Thomas Richards made a stout, weighty sound as Bartolo, & his "La Vendetta" aria was nicely musical. The audience laughed at his goofy dancing during the wedding scene.

Conductor Xian Zhang led an orchestra of about 30, placed in the auditorium in front of the stage. Tempos were generally quick, & the orchestra & singers were occasionally not in sync. The orchestra sounded prominent. I liked the flute & clarinet solos. The harpsichord accompaniment was emphatic in the 1st half. During act 3, the lights went off on the music stands in the right of the orchestra, & a technician had to wade in among the musicians to fix it.

Merola Opera photo IMG_20130801_192757_zps71da2a77.jpgThere were only 2 doors into the Everett Middle School auditorium, & only 1 ticket-taker at each door, so it took a while for everyone to get in. The show was well-attended, & the audience was supportive & applauded warmly for each number. They even broke into applause twice during the act 2 finale.

§ Le nozze di Figaro 
Merola Opera Program
Xian Zhang, conductor
Robin Guarino, director

Figaro: John Arnold
Susanna: Maria Valdes
Dr. Bartolo: Thomas Richards
Marcellina: Daryl Freedman
Cherubino: Rihab Chaieb
Count Almaviva: Joseph Lattanzi
Don Basilio: Casey Finnigan
Countess Almaviva: Jacqueline Piccolino
Antonio: Rhys Lloyd Talbot
Don Curzio: Matthew Newlin
Barbarina: Alisa Jordheim

Thursday, August 1 at 7:30 PM
Everett Auditorium at Everett Middle School


2 comments:

Michael Strickland said...

Saw it at the Saturday matinee, where the orchestra and singers were more in sync, and loved the production overall. Mozart operas are so much better in a small house.

Axel Feldheim said...

I quite agree with you regarding the size of the theater for Mozart. This was also a really good ensemble production, with no one character dominating.