Categories: Performing Arts

Mozart’s ‘Figaro’ a welcome return to S.F. Opera

Mozart’s 1786 “The Marriage of Figaro,” a masterpiece of musical theater universally  known for its perfect blend of drama, comedy and music, is unsurprisingly appealing in San Francisco Opera’s seventh revival of a 1982 Zack Brown production.

Robin Guarino’s lively stage direction injects new vitality into the opera, which opened Sunday at the War Memorial Opera House showcasing unusually young singers with pleasant, lyrical voices.

For most of the opening performance, conductor Patrick Summers  (one of the many locally launched Merola Program alumni in this production) was frequently ahead of the singers, pulling them (rather than accompanying them) when leading the orchestra and when playing the fortepiano for recitatives. For the majority of the evening, the music rolled along merrily, although there were moments when Summers took a slower-than-usual tempo.

Both “Marriage” and Rossini’s 1816 “The Barber of Seville” – a prequel to “Marriage” – are based on Pierre Beaumarchais’ 18th-century plays about a clever character named Figaro, but the time elapsing between the two stories brought big changes.

In “Barber of Seville,” Rosina was courted by Count Almaviva, with Figaro’s help. In “Marriage,” she has become the Countess (Nadine Sierra) who is married to, and neglected by, Almaviva (Luca Pisaroni), who is scheming to bed anyone else, especially Susanna (Lisette Oropesa).

Mozart’s Figaro (Philippe Sly) is now pitched against Almaviva (Luca Pisaroni) because he wants to marry Susanna without Almaviva exercising his feudal “right to the first night.”

Mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey is quite believable in the trouser role, young courtier-officer Cherubino, who pretends to be a girl in an attempt to catch the count at one of his escapades.

Singing from the heart, the entire ensemble was at its thespian best. Bass-baritones Sly and Pisaroni, both tall and handsome, engaged in convincing combat, and sopranos Sierra and Oropesa were beauteous and appealing.

Performers in secondary comic roles – John del Carlo as Bartolo, Catherine Cook as Marcellina and Greg Fedderly as Basilio – were excellent.

REVIEW
The Marriage of Figaro
Presented by San Francisco Opera
Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. June 18, June 25, June 27, June 29, July 3 and July 5; 2 p.m. June 21
Tickets: $25 to $380
Contact:  (415) 864-3330, www.sfopera.com

Janos Gereben

Recent Posts

What I am grateful for on this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a few days away, and soon we will gather with friends and family to eat and give thanks.…

7 hours ago

Residents face eviction after federal lawsuit shuts down state’s largest sober living provider

More than 250 residents of California’s largest sober living provider could face evictions on Monday, after a trustee who has…

8 hours ago

USF basketball’s Jamaree Bouyea returns home for a resounding win over LIU-Brooklyn at Cal State Monterey Bay

SEASIDE, Calif. — Two minutes and 17 seconds after entering Sunday's game against LIU-Brooklyn, University of San Francisco sophomore Jamaree…

13 hours ago

SF street safety advocates urge public to stop calling crashes ‘accidents’

Neeti Chokshi was crossing the street with her one-year-old dog on an evening in January when a car blew through…

13 hours ago

Victorian Christmas in full swing at Dickens fair at the Cow Palace

Charles Dickens, greeting guests in his home at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair in its first weekend at the Cow…

14 hours ago

USF Basketball: Dons women edge Cal Poly under clear skies in Seaside at Cal State Monterey Bay

 SEASIDE, Calif. -- University of San Francisco freshman Julia Nielacna scored just seven points in the first half on Sunday…

16 hours ago