Broad humor and convoluted plot in the ‘Marriage of Figaro’

by C. I. Roman. 0 Comments

Carmen Ileana Romn One never thinks of opera as a continuing saga. But the Washington National Opera launches a masterful rendition of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts opera, "The Marriage of Figaro," which, in reality, is a continuation of Gioachino Rossinis "The Barber of Seville."

In Mozarts opera we revisit Count Almaviva and the Countess and see how that passionate love of Rossinis Barber of Seville has cooled over the years.

The plot revolves around an aristocrats insistence on his privilege to have a go at his valets bride on their wedding day and the valets determination that this not happen. Known in French as le droit du seigneur; it was a lords traditional right to prove his lordliness by deflowering the brides of his vassals.

The curtain opens to Figaro (Ildar Abdrazakov) measuring to fit the bed in the new bedroom that he and Susanna (Veronica Cangemi) have been given by Count Almaviva (Teddy Tahu Rhodes) as a wedding gift. Susanna's servant to the Countess enters happily singing about her lovely new bridal outfit, but immediately points out to her betrothed that the Counts intentions in placing their new bedroom in between the Counts and Countess chambers would be very convenient for the Count, especially if Figaro is sent to London on business.

Figaro is aware of another plan to force him to marry an older noblewoman, Marcellina, in lieu of old debts he owes her, but this ruse by the Count never takes place since it turns out that Marcellina is Figaros mother!

The Count had officially abolished the barbaric practice of the "right of the first night." However, he was plotting the seduction of Susanna, asserting his noble right to be above the law.

Count Almaviva, is a nobleman who, some years earlier with Figaro's help, "broke the rules" to marry his own wife for true love, but now, bored with her, he seeks to share his royal pleasure elsewhere.

The bridal couple realizes that in this feudal situation, they have only their wits and love as weapons, and must deploy them to outsmart the Count, while bringing others into their plan to "win their cause."

What subsequently unfolds are various conspiracies planned from all sides, which are launched, which fail, and are reconfigured, all interwoven with divine music, heightening both the drama, and the often-ironic reactions to the conspiracies.

Making it all work is an eclectic and energetic cast that seems to genuinely be enjoying themselves on stage.

Carmen Ileana Romn writes a monthly column for

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