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The Marriage of Figaro

Keith Phares as the Count
Keith Phares as the Count
Photo: Matthew Staver
One could not ask for a more fulfilling production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro than stage director David Gately's well-tempered approach that kicks off Opera Colorado's 2012 season.

The story, like Rossini's The Barber of Seville, is based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais. The Marriage of Figaro takes place a few years after The Barber of Seville, though Mozart composed it (and had a hand in the libretto) 30 years before Rossini composed the prequel. Figaro (Simone Alberghini), who helped the Count (Keith Phares) marry Rosina in The Barber of Seville, is now trying to get the Count's blessing to marry Susanna (Ava Pine), maid-servant to the Countess Rosina (Twyla Robinson). But the Count has designs on Susanna.

Ava Pine as Susanna and Simone Alberghini as Figaro
Ava Pine as Susanna
and Simone Alberghini as Figaro
Photo: Matthew Staver
Alberghini's rich bass and expressive, native Italian, as well as his impeccable comedic timing, set the tone for what Beaumarchais intended as a thorough scouring of the aristocracy, and although the libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte stripped most of the political content to get it past the Emperor, Joseph II, the Count is still foiled and made to look the fool.

Twyla Robinson as the Countess
Twyla Robinson as the Countess
Photo: Matthew Staver
Pine's lovely, lyrical soprano and her sweet take on Susanna endears Figaro and excites the Count, putting the spotlight on the despicable custom by which the lord of the manor had carnal rights to his servants. Figaro thanks the Count for forsaking this practice, and the Count goes along with this, but only for appearances' sake. It is Robinson's Countess, with a series of transcendent arias and help from Susanna, who seizes the higher moral ground and steers the outcome to a satisfactory and classically comedic conclusion.

Amy Maples as Barbarina and Patricia Risley as Cherubino
Amy Maples as Barbarina
and Patricia Risley as Cherubino
Photo: Matthew Staver
Patricia Risley, in the trouser role of Cherubino, the testosterone-addled youth, is a constant humorous delight, coming on to all the ladies with her pleasing mezzo shadings. Phares brings the needed gravity and a fine bass to the difficult role of the Count, for whom our sympathy must blow hot and cold. Thomas Hammons, a sonorous bass, brings the perfect villainous touch to Dr. Bartolo.

John Baril and the Opera Colorado orchestra deliver an impressive rendition of the complex score. The sets (Susan Benson), with their luscious faux frescos, are both exotic and, at times, erotic (at least to Cherubino!).

The final performance of Opera Colorado's The Marriage of Figaro is this Sunday at 2:00 PM at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. For tickets, 1-800-982-2787 or www.operacolorado.org.

Bob Bows

 

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