The Marriage of Figaro @ Salle Wilfrid Pelletier – September 17-24, 2011

You may not think you know Mozart’s Overture to the Marriage of Figaro, but you do. If you are like me and have an appreciation of culture, but are by no means knowledgeable in the lengthy history of opera, than there is something truly comforting about the opening piece of a production being familiar to you. Somehow, it says “you may not know your baritones from your bass-baritones, but you are welcome here.” And welcomed I was, as the orchestra swelled and the stage was set for this, for lack of a more sophisticated term, comedy of errors!

On the day Figaro is to marry his betrothed Susanna, he discovers she is the object of Count Almaviva’s affections. Despite his own marriage, the Count is intent on making Susanna his mistress. The Countess Almaviva is distressed by the circumstances, but shall not be made a victim. She, along with Figaro and Susanna, scheme to expose the Count and have him atone for his sins. With plots involving the counts page posing as a woman, and fake letters promising secret rendez-vous, it is one close call after another as this cast of characters attempt to make their way through this wedding day.

Make no mistake about it, despite its comedic tendencies, this opener to the 32nd season of the Opéra de Montréal is a serious production. The sets are beautifully crafted, the costumes elegant, and the singers in peak form. I was particularly smitten with Nicole Cabell in the role of La Contessa Almaviva. Cabell’s voice is rich and commanding. Were you to close your eyes, it would be almost impossible to believe she is only 33 years old. The stage director, Tom Diamond, was successful in keeping this lengthy opera to three hours (with one intermission), though I understand concessions had to me made in the scoring of this classic.

“Les Noces de Figaro” has a limited run which ends September 24th, tickets are still available.

NB. Unlike previously, this season’s showtime is 7:30pm.

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