Monday, August 9, 2004

I Just Love It When This Guy Gets Married

I'm talking about Figaro, of course.

This weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro performed by the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center.

I want to write about it, but I don't know what to write ... a review? a plot description for readers who aren't familiar with it? a rant about people who say they "don't like opera" when they haven't even given it a chance?

I suppose I'll do a little bit of each.

First, a review. Not, of course, that I'm remotely qualified to review an opera. So, please understand that these are just my impressions, as A Person Who Doesn't Know Much About Opera But Loves Mozart All The Same.

THE SET: Minimal. Nothing elaborate, so it allowed for quick set-up and take-down. I read somewhere that BMC put the entire opera together in two weeks; the necessary simplicity was apparent here. Boxes were stacked haphazardly on top of one another, and certain items that represented a scene were wedged here and there. In the Countess' bedroom scene, for instance, Cherubino's jumping-window was wedged between two boxes. I suppose the boxes were effective in serving the scenes, but at the same time, they made for a strangely "modern"-looking backdrop for bewigged singers in 18th-century costumes. Set design was by Robin Vest.

THE MUSIC: Good, good, good. The music is always good. Conducted by John Greer.

THE PERFORMERS: Is that what you call them in an opera? Performers? Singers? Whatever they were, I thought most were quite good, and some were particularly fine. Andrew Cummings as Figaro was excellently cast--not only did he sound the part, but he looked the part. He WAS Figaro. Not a bad-looking guy, either (that always helps). And Lee Taylor as Susanna was endearing in her clever and canniving ways. I loved Benjamin Czarnota as the Count. Sure, his voice was great, but I just loved the fact that he was rather short and slight, physically. It made him effective as a conniving little weenie of a count, next to Cumming's tall, strapping, sexy Figaro. Perhaps my favorite "character" was Andrea Hill as Cherubino. Anyone familiar with this opera knows that Cherubino is such a wonderful character anyway; I would imagine that any soprano would jump at the chance to play this role. I know I would, if I could remotely carry a tune. But anyway, Hill did an excellent job as Cherubino; I found myself forgetting that she was female and actually believing that she was an adolescent boy. The only disappointment was Steven Kirby as Don Bartolo. Although he "loosened up" as the opera progressed, he seemed very stiff in the beginning, and I felt that that took away from his overall performance.

COMPLAINTS: The two intermissions. I guess this is par for the course at operas or something. I don't know. This is the fourth opera I've been to, and I've enjoyed them all so much that I never remember if I was annoyed by the length or the intermissions. At the opera this weekend, I would be so into the performance ... and then the curtain would close for the intermission. I'd blink my way out of operatic dreamland, thinking, "What? We have to take ANOTHER break?"

I thought one of my complaints would be the fact that the entire thing was done in English. The original is in Italian, and the CD of arias I've memorized in the car are all in Italian. And English often sounds so ugly next to Italian ... but really, it wasn't bad. I still think I would have preferred the Italian, but I can honestly say that the "English" aspect did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the opera.

Well, this has been a really long post, and I actually have a lot of work to do today, so I'm going to hold off on the plot description and the rant. (Hmm, I'm hearing a collective sigh of relief out there ...)

Seriously, y'all, I won't rant, but if you think you don't like opera, try giving at least The Marriage of Figaro a chance. Opera ain't all about 400-pound women with horned helmets and spears, bellowing at the tops of their lungs (sorry, Wagnerians). And Figaro is one of the most accessible operas out there--interesting storyline, fun (and funny) characters, good love story, catchy tunes, etc.

Sooo ... nurture the opera-lover in you that's waiting to come out. Go rent Amadeus. Pick up a recording of arias or duets from The Marriage of Figaro (or Le Nozze di Figaro) or other Mozart opera. Sing a high note or two in the shower. Do something to extend an appreciation for opera. 'Cause it's not appreciated nearly enough these days.


Anonymous said...

As a member of TTBA (Teeny Tiny Bladders of America), I'd like to say how proud we are of the advances made in operatic performances to accomodate TTBs like myself. We join with alcoholics, smokers, and IBs (irritable bowels) in lauding the opera company industry in their recognition of our need for intermissions. The more our hosts suffer in our denial, the less they enjoy the performance.

TTBAs unite!

Signed in fullness,
Cousin Stacey's bladder

Waterfall said...

LOL, I apologize for finding the intermissions inconvenient! In preparation for the opera, I purposely did NOT drink any water for probably four hours in advance so I wouldn't have to pee. :)

Anonymous said...

She tortures me. She makes me hold it through entire operas. She never lets me go. She says she'd rather have me suffer than stand in line at the bathroom. You should be glad to have such an understanding human as Cousin Stacey.

Signed in Misery,

Cousin Nina's Bladder

Anonymous said...

My bladder is holding me hostage. I can't do anything. No road trips, no museums, no long movies (at least not without sitting next to the aisle). Certainly no operas. And now it's posting it's dirty activism in your blog, my apologies. I think it's in cahoots with my thirst sensors in order to keep me in this hostage situation. I get thirsty, I drink tons of water, I have to pee. I denounce you, o bladder! I will chew gum to slake my thirst! I break free today!

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah?! You will do no such thing! *squeeeeze*

Cousin Stacey's bladder

Anonymous said...

Um... 'scuse me...

Cousin Stacey

Anonymous said...

Warning: Funny posts may result in unexpected bladder malfunction and are hereby prohibited. Violators will be forced to imbibe copious amounts of beer with minimal bathroom breaks.

The BlogForcer

Anonymous said...

Please ignore the BlogForcer. He's just trying to censor our right, as bladders, to DO WHAT WE DO BEST.

A Blogging Bladder

Anonymous said...

Don't test us. We've been incredibly successful so far in our lawsuits. Don't make us strike.

Cousin Stacey's bladder, Steward
Teeny Tiny Bladders of America

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