10-14 March 2015
Reviewed by Ann Durrell
Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro is one of the most performed opera’s worldwide and the plot centres around the wedding day of Figaro, Head Servant to Count Almaviva. The Count wants to revive an old custom which would allow him to sleep with Figaro’s pretty young fiancée Susanna on her wedding night. When Figaro learns of the Counts intention he puts together a plan with Susanna and the Countess to expose the counts scheming enlisting the help of the Counts page boy Cherubino who has fallen out of favour. In retaliation the Count then tries to force Figaro to marry a much older lady using a contract Figaro once signed to lend money, but the older lady then turns out to be his mother. Needless to say, it is a comedic opera! This performance by Opera North is directed by Jo Davies and is sung in English.
When the curtains first went up I was not sure on the staging. At first it looked more like we were seeing the back of the set but as the performance went on it became apparent how cleverly thought out it was. Previously when I have watched performances where the set is changed in front of the audience I have found it distracting, but not with this production. We saw Figaro and Susanna’s rooms transformed into the Countesses bed chamber, then into the Counts study and finally the gardens without it distracting from the performers.
The entire cast are first class. In the role of Figaro is Richard Burkhard who was excellent in both delivery and tone and Silvia Moi in the role of Susanna, not only has a great voice but is also really funny, I particularly enjoyed Act 1 where she was feigning fainting spells whilst trying to distract the Count from finding Cherubino who was hiding in her room. Cherubni was played brilliantly by Helen Sherman, she really had the part of a randy hormonal adolescent boy down to a tee! Another injection of comedy was the gardener who storms in during Act 2, I do not think I have seen a broad Yorkshire gardener during Figaro before, certainly raised more than a few giggles from the audience.
Quirijn de Lang in the role of the Count is excellent, pompous and arrogant he strides across the stage in his jodhpurs and riding jacket. When it looks like his scheming may be successful I was almost tempted to boo him! His long suffering wife The Countess is sung by Ana Maria Labin who has a beautiful voice and her duet with Susanna was simply stunning, their voices really worked well together.
It is long at 3 hours with one interval however I would definitely recommend seeing this production.
Tickets cost from £18.50 to £60 (includes £2 booking fee).
The Marriage of Figaro is at The Lowry in Manchester until 14 March 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000