Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro is beautifully presented by Opera North. Though if you’re looking for a quick theatrical fix, this isn’t the one for you. At three hours plus interval, the long show is tough going and is somewhat of an enjoyable endurance sport.
The cast are sublime, with powerful voices that fill the entire auditorium. They work in perfect synchronicity with the orchestra so the balance is always spot on. There’s no denying the sheer talent on stage – from the vocalists and musicians right through to the impressive and grand set designed by Leslie Travers and lovely costumes designed by Gabrielle Dalton.
Figaro (Phillip Rhodes), Count Almaviva (Quirijn de Lang) and Cherubino (Heather Lowe) are particularly stand-out, with the comedy from Jeremy Peaker as Antonio providing a little light relief. All of the cast hold their parts well, keeping humour in their tone but saving belting power-notes in their back pocket for their big moments.
The problem with this opera is the libretto was developed from a play, and then translated. This makes the fairly ludicrous plot (basically, Figaro wants to get married to Susanna but obstacles stand in their way – no spoilers here) quite lengthy and pontificating as the libretto is forced to fit the music. This is very common of opera, but makes for a lot of repetition and explanations that lengthen an already very long production.
If you’re heading along to The Marriage of Figaro to fulfil a bucket list wish of seeing “Figaro” (of Mrs Doubtfire fame) sung live, you’re in for a disappointment. The famous Figaro song is actually from an aria from The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini. Despite being written by Mozart, there aren’t many catchy tunes or impressive pieces in The Marriage of Figaro. So limit your expectations. The cast are fantastic, but they don’t have a lot to work with.
It’s no secret that I don’t think opera is really my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the incredible amount of talent, hard work and creativity that goes into bringing such a magnificent piece to the stage. If you’re a fan of opera as a genre of theatre, then that’s even better. Frankly, whatever your tastes, I think anyone can find many elements to enjoy in this production.
Catch The Marriage of Figaro at Leeds Grand Theatre on selected dates.