The Marriage of Figaro @ Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

The overture tells you everything you need
to know about what will follow in “The Marriage of Figaro” at Opera Theatre Saint Louis,
thanks not only to Mozart’s brilliant music, but also to Opera Theatre’s marvelous production. The opening notes scamper along at bracing
but not a breakneck speed. Conductor-harpsichordist Christopher Allen
judges the pacing beautifully here and throughout, always drawing gorgeous playing from the St.
Louis Symphony. Stage director Mark Lamos brings the characters
onstage during the overture. Additions of this sort are sometimes intrusive,
but Lamos’s are clever and effective. The audience gets to know the characters and
their relationships as they act out events that take place prior to the opening curtain. The inventions suggest Lamos’s top priorities
are making the action clear and bringing out the comedy. The splendid direction serves the audience
throughout, aficionados and novices alike. The same is true for Sean Curran’s choreography. The action during the overture also introduces
the costumes by Constance Hoffman and the set by Paul Steinberg. The costumes are a delightful mix of traditional
and fanciful elements. The same can be said of Tom Watson’s wigs
and makeup. The style of the painted scenery enhances
the buoyancy of the production, and the easily reconfigured set pieces allow for speedy scene
changes after Acts I and III. The props crew under Nicole Angeli did yeoman
service in filling the cabinets with clutter in Act I. The only important thing the overture does
not alert you to in this production is the quality of the singing. Happily, it ascends to the same peak level
as the rest, both musically and dramatically. The performers are:
Aubrey Allicock as Figaro, Monica Dewey as Susanna,
Theo Hoffman as the Count Susannah Biller as Rosina
Samantha Gossard as Cherubino Nathan Stark as Bartolo
MaryAnn McCormick as Marcellina John McVeigh as Basilio
Elena Villalon as Barbarina Calvet Young as Curzio
Phillip Lopez as Antonio, and the chorus under Cary John Franklin. The laughter at the right spots and other
appropriate audience responses speak well for the work of English diction specialist
Ben Malensek and fight director and intimacy coach Michael Rossmy. I’m glad I already have my tickets for the
Saturday matinee.

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