North East & YorkshireOperaReview

Opera North’s The Marriage of Figaro – Leeds Grand Theatre

Reviewer: Dawn Smallwood

Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Libretto: Lorenzo da Ponte

Director: Jo Davies

Conductor: Antony Hermus

The entertaining The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze Di Figaro) is Opera North’s second opera in this season’s repertoire.  This opera premiered in 1786 and is based on Pierre Beaumarchais’play, La Folle journèe ou le Mariage de Figaro, and is adapted to Mozart’s musical composition and Lorenzo da Ponte’s libretto.

It’s about events taking place over a day with Figaro (Phillip Rhodes) and Susanna’s (Fflur Wyn) impending wedding taking place later on in the day.  There are infidelity issues among Count Almaviva (Quirijn de Lang) who is in love with Susanna and does his utmost to seduce her.  He justifies his motives and moves with the droit du seigneur.  There is also the womanising Cherubino (Heather Lowe), the Count’s page, who is in love with all the women including the countess (Máire Flavin) which angers the Count.  As well as this there is Marcellina (Gaynor Keeble), a housekeeper, who has a claim to marry Figaro if he isn’t to pay off some of his debt.

The plot thickens amid madness and intrigue and this leads to comedic chaos.  Each of the characters contribute to such complications and pursuits ensuring that nothing gets in the way of their vendettas, particularly the Count’s pursuit of Susannah and Figaro’s determination to be married to her.

Mozart’s hallmark music sublimely fits into the action and tells the story itself.  The musical composition is supported with melodic arias and chorals.  There are some memorable arias such as Figaro’s Non pìu andrai (Stop gallivanting) at the end of the first act when he mockingly advises Cherubino about his new army assignment and there is the emotively moving Susanna’s Voi che sapete che cosa è amor (How ladies who know what love is, is it what I’m suffering from) which is Cherubino’s song for the countess.  The plot unravels with nonstop entertainment and like all comedies it all ends well …or from the very final glances between the countess and Cherubino before the final curtains come down, does it?

Leslie Travers’ stage set and James Farncombe’s lighting creatively works well over the four acts with the versatile use and smooth transition of the staging, particularly the doors, windows and staircase.  Gabrielle Dalton’s costumes reflect the characters’ personalities and idiosyncrasies throughout.

Under the direction of Davies, this cast is led by Rhodes and Wyn who have put on an excellent performance and are faithfully supported by the Chorus of Opera North and the very talented creative team.  Hermus directs Mozart’s ingenious music and the performance is co-ordinated and choreographed under Kay Shepherd’s lead.

Mozart’s music is internationally recognised for its style and emotive content during the human spirit.  The Marriage of Figaro is considered as an opera buffa (comedic) which is associated satirically with the characters’ shortfalls and misgiving with underlining moral themes.  This opera is sublimely popular and this revived production, with a sparkling finale, lives up to that.  It is entertaining from beginning to end.


Runs at Leeds Grand on various dates until 29th February 2020

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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