It doesn’t take much to have a good production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. The opera is so charming that as long as you have some good voices, you’re pretty much guaranteed a pleasant experience. Having a great production, however, takes an amazing amount of work. Not only do the voices need to be phenomenal, but you need actors with comedic timing, and an orchestra that can sustain the delicate energy Mozart’s music calls for. Fortunately, Utah Opera’s current production has an remarkable cast that delivers one of the best Marriage of Figaro‘s I’ve ever seen.
In this production, every singer, from lead, down to the smallest part, was exceptionally talented. The leads, Seth Carico as Figaro and Zulimar López-Hernández as Susanna, were both outstanding in their Utah Opera debut. Carico has wonderful delivery in even the most difficult passages, with commanding stage presence and energy. Lopez-Hernandez was an absolute delight as Susanna. Her singing was bright and full, and her acting was tender, without stepping into naivete. Her Susanna was smart, intuitive, warm and proud, but never brash.
Craig Irvin, as Count Almaviva, brought much depth to a role that can often be simply played as a lecher. The Count is scandalous, certainly, but the redemption of the character at the end of the opera often feels like a stretch. His acting brought more sympathy to the role than expected, and his voice was a great compliment to the rest of the cast. Nicole Heaston, in her Utah Opera debut as Countess Almaviva, was absolutely stunning. Her portrayal was nuanced and regal, and her aria in Act 3 had the audience holding their breath in awe of her dynamic range and beautiful delivery. A special note should be made of Abigail Levis as Cherubino. She sang well, and her very physical and energetic portrayal of Cherubino was a welcome addition to the cast.
The stage direction by Tara Faircloth was a great complement to Mozart’s music. It was clever, comedic and very energetic. The production was updated from its traditional time period into a 1910s setting, which was a very good idea. The commentary on different classes of society stays, but the non-traditional setting gives it more interest. The costumes and hairstyles were a very fun visual element.
The Utah Symphony was led very well by Conductor Gary Thor Wedow. The playing was exact and light, and Carol Anderson did an excellent job providing the continuo to accompany the recitatives.
Utah Opera’s The Marriage of Figaro continues through May 15, 2016 at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at utahopera.org or arttix.org
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