Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Andrea Molina – Directed by David McVicar.
Costumes designed by Jenny Tiramani - Lighting design by David Finn.
Opera Australia – Joan Sutherland Theatre until 18th Feb. 2022.
night performance on 27th January reviewed by Bill Stephens.
|Tommaso Barea (Figaro) - Agnes Sarkis (Cherubino_ - Stacey Alleaume (Susanna)
The charm of
Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” has always escaped me. Not even the lure of
Mozart’s sublime score seemed worth the tedium of having to sit through the
silly convoluted plot. However, having just experienced David McVicar’s wonderfully
joyous production for the first time, I’ve finally seen the light.
an outstanding International cast of superb singers, some of whom were making
their first Sydney Opera House appearances, revival director, Andy Morton, has managed
to mould them into a cohesive ensemble achieving exactly the right performance
level to allow each to deliver McVicar’s concept with fascinatingly nuanced and
detailed performances which serve the story as well as the music in ways that
are thoughtful, inspired, and often very funny.
|Stacey Alleaume (Susanna) - Tommaso Barea (Figaro) - Mario Cassi (Count Almaviva_
Opera Australia Ensemble.
The opera is
performed in Jenny Tiramani’s naturalistic, sunlit
17th century manor house setting, clothed in extraordinarily detailed
costumes, with the action taking place over the course of a single day, the
times differences differentiated by a remarkable lighting design from David
Finn. The storyline centres on the
attempts of two servants, Figaro (Tommaso Barea) and Susanna (Stacey Alleaume),
to thwart the ambitions of their employer, Count Almaviva (Mario Cassi) to
exercise his baronial right to bed his servant before her wedding day.
Throw in the
fact that Figaro has signed a contract to marry Marcellina (Sian Sharp) if he
defaults on the repayment of money he has borrowed from her; a young Page,
Cherubino (Agnes Sarkis), who’s convinced he’s in love with both Susanna and
the Countess; and unlikely plan cooked up by Susanna and the Countess
(Ekaterina Morozova) to swap clothes in an attempt to prove the Count’s infidelities;
and a house full of servants determined to celebrate a wedding, and you have
all the elements of slapstick. Except that in this production, instead of
resorting to slapstick the cast play every scene as if for real. The result is great fun as well as superb
|Stacey Alleaume (Susanna) - Mario Cassi (Count Almaviva) - Ekaterina Morozova (Countess Almaviva)
As the Count
Almaviva, a role often portrayed as a randy buffoon, Italian baritone, Mario Cassi
is a handsome, imposing figure, investing the role with as much dignity as the shenanigans
allow. His Countess is elegant Bolshoi soprano, Ekaterina Morozova, a fine
singer/actress as arresting lamenting her husband’s infidelity with an
exquisite rendition of “Porgi amor”, as when conspiratorially dictating a
letter for her maid Susanna to deliver to the Count to entice him into meeting
for which she’ll be disguised as Susanna.
As Susanna, Stacey Alleaume, proved her sensational turn in the HOSH
production of “La Traviata” was no splash in the pan. Rather than portray her
as a downcast, simpering maiden willing to acquiesce to her employers advances,
Alleaume’s Susanna is a feisty, non-nonsense character, quite capable of fighting
her own battles, whether they be with her fiancé, Figaro, to insist on better
marital accommodation, or plotting a plan with the Countess to expose the Count’s
|Stacey Alleame (Susanna) - Tommaso Barea (Figaro)
to use the stage, Alleaume is constantly on the move. In this she is well teamed with
mullet-wearing Tommaso Barea, who’s youthful Figaro is equally physical. Together
they create a rare chemistry which demonstrates their feelings for each other
even when quarrelling.
gives an appealing performance as the young page, Cherubino, earning belly-laughs
in the first act when his hiding place is exposed by Dr Bartolo. Richard Anderson’s rich baritone is displayed
to great advantage in this role, as are his skills in creating amusing,
interesting characters. Similarly, Sian
Sharp is very funny as the waspish Marcellina, particularly when late in the
show she discovers that the man she was hoping to marry is really her son.
|Sian Sharp ( Marcellina) - Richard Anderson (Dr. Bartolo) - Benjamin Rasheed (Don Basilio)
Opera Australia Chorus.
Rasheed (Don Basilio), Stuart Haycock (Don Curzio) Danita Weatherstone
(Barbarina), Andrew Moran (Antonio) Celeste Lararenko and Angela Hogan ( 1st
and 2nd Bridesmaids) and a small but enthusiastic group of ensemble singers all surround the
main characters with cleverly drawn, beautifully sung cameos which add to the
fun, and enhance the enjoyment of Mozart’s sublime score which is blissfully
rendered by the Opera Australia orchestra responding to Maestro Andrea Molino’s
experienced and fastidious direction.
If you haven’t
yet experienced this production don’t miss this opportunity. It’s difficult to
imagine that this opera could be more beautifully mounted and performed.
This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au