The Marriage of Figaro

The Marriage of Figaro
By Mozart. OAonTour. Director/Adaptor/Translator: Michael Gow. Conductor: Paul Fitzsimon. Drum Theatre, Dandenong, July 15 and 16, and touring nationally in 2016

OAonTour is the touring arm of Opera Australia. They have had a touring arm forever, bringing opera to the far reaches of this large country. Usually they perform with no chorus and minimalist sets.

This was different.

There was a small orchestra, but more importantly, a choir from a local primary school. What a great idea! The Marriage of Figaro has little to involve the chorus, and these young people got their opportunity to shine and to experience opera and hear some magnificent voices at very close range. This is an experience they will never forgot.

It won’t do any harm to the box office either!

The principals were a mixed bag. Jeremy Kleeman and Celeste Lazarenko were an ideal young couple as Figaro and Susanna, singing beautifully. Kristen Leich shone in the small role of Marcellina, as did Tom Hamilton as Antonio and Jenny Liu as Barbarina, the alternative Figaro and Susanna. Brad Cooper was a delight as Basilio/Don Curzio.

Olivia Cranwell as the Countess and Steven Gallop as Bartolo both have big dramatic voices less suited to the refinement of Mozart, but blended well in ensembles. Olivia gave a touching portrayal of the wronged woman. Lucas de Jong sang well as the Count, but didn’t look angry enough at being crossed. Agnes Sarkis was a cheeky Cherubino.

The use of spoken dialogue instead of recitative worked well, and I loved the Australian colloquialisms. The static set had wallpaper featuring a country scene which would serve for both indoor and outdoor scenes. However, the decision to feature an Australian landscape when the characters were in period costumes was surprising. It looked like it had been rescued from another production.

There was some innovative direction, and I loved Antonio making his entrance up a ladder and through the window, to fall flat on his face. The small orchestra did well.

This is a great innovation for the national company.

Graham Ford

Image: Bradley Cooper as Don Basilio, Kristen Leich as Marcellina, Simon Meadows as Count Almaviva and Steven Gallop as Bartolo in Opera Australia’s The Marriage of Figaro. Photographer: Albert Comper.

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