Atlanta, Georgia- Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) has the distinction of being the oldest opera in the permanent repertoire of virtually every stage in the Western world. Even though Mozart’s Don Giovanni is his most popular it is second oldest. (Atlanta Opera’s Don Giovanni runs on April 28, May 1,4,6 www.AtlantaOpera.org).
This review refers to the opening night Friday the 13th performance at the Rialto Theatre.
This opera is an ideal choice for the novice or seasoned opera lover. Hard to believe that at the time it created quite a stir. First it was written in the backdrop of the French revolution and the main characters, the servants, were making fun of their masters. Second, it tells a story, unlike earlier opera works that were simply a round robin of arias to showoff performer’s voices.
As a note to burgeoning opera lovers, there are two school of thought of how to prepare for an opera. Some say that if it is a good opera, you should go see it cold and be surprised by its beauty. Others believe that you should prepare and read about the opera in order to know the major plots and be ready for the good parts and not get lost in the translation.
I’m a student of opera, so I prefer to do the later, don’t worry no exam will be given but if you don’t have time for pre-study there is usually a good synopsis in the program and most opera houses will give a free lecture one hour before the performance.
Most people think opera’s are boring and snooty, but they really can be an awesome experience. The ability to feel the limits of the human voice and be transformed to the ultimate 3D experience, surround sound and no glasses needed.
This performance of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) is conducted by the School of Music at Georgia State University. What makes it fun is that most opera singer’s voices don’t mature until they are in their mid-30s, so this gives us the audience a chance to check out future opera greats. It also gives the students a chance to experience the stage.
In this opera, one to watch is the character of the Countess, Maria Valdes. Her voice was phenomenal and a standout.
This opera also has some of the most recognized tunes and has a live in house orchestra. Seen in the pit were the principle cello Harrison Cook, who came up to say hello and hails from an accomplished musically talented family.
What I liked with this performance is that they took the liberty to update the story. The names are the same and it was sung in Italian, but the setting was a penthouse in Buckhead and the servants were personal assistants. It was also the first opera I had seen that incorporated an Ipad when one scene called for the writing of a love note.
I don’t want to be a plot spoiler, but this opera contains all the great elements of a good story. Suspense, love, and lust with few surprises and vengeances sprinkled along the way. One think I love about opera is that they don’t work at resolving all the issues in the story. As in life, sometimes you get screwed but life moves on.
The main plot it that two servants, Figaro (Ray Orr) and Sussana (Julie Trammel) are set to marry. They are in the mix of the whole drama with family, location, and the complexities of a wedding day. In comes Sussana’s boss, the Count Almaviva (Jorge Trabanco), he is a bit of a player and has an eye for Sussana or anything that is female and moves. His wife, the Countess Almaviva (Maria Valdes) is distress by his philandering ways and a plan is set to teach him a lesson.
There are other subplots, the oversexed Cherubino (Tábita Iwamoto) and the seduction of Figaro by a mature siren, Marcellina (Lauren Wright).
This opera is broken into 4 acts and runs a bit over 3 hours, so make sure you are rested and really for the challenge.
Two more performances for Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) is set for Saturday April 14 at 8 PM and Sunday’s matinee at 3 PM. There is a free pre-opera lecture one hour prior to every performance.
For tickets and show times visit: www.rialtocenter.org or call (404)413-9TIX
One more note, if you can’t make this show, don’t fret, and check out the upcoming Atlanta Opera performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Cobb Energy Centre. This story revolves around the world’s greatest lover, Don Juan. For tickets and information visit: www.AtlantaOpera.org or call (404)881-8885