Madison Opera was thrilled to welcome the Tommy Awards Student Critics to our production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. The Student Critics program aims to foster critical thinking and writing skills among area high school students and is a component of the Overture Center’s Tommy Awards. Here are some excerpts from their reviews:
…As the lights dimmed on the opening of Madison Opera’s 50th anniversary season, there was an unspoken excitement radiating from the sold out theatre. Maestro DeMain led the orchestra playing Mozart’s sweet melodies in beautiful harmony, and clarity. Then the curtain rose, and there appeared an elaborate set featuring a black-checkered floor, and painted blue draped curtain in the background behind imposing columns that portrayed wealth and power….
All in all, a fun and memorable production (though a little lengthy in its three-hour run) filled with unique, and smooth voices, a playful cast, and many laughs. Congratulations Madison Opera… on your 50 years and your lively, and entertaining production!
…The costumes reflected the personality of each character vibrantly. The set is an elaborate set-up which makes up the scenes for each of the four acts, changing by a quick removal a few panels. It is an accurate neoclassical design which was the fashion of the day. Lighting designer Jeff Harris has many skilled effects, such as sunlight shining in through the windows. On the other hand, the shadows of those entering or exiting the stage can be seen the entire third act. The superscript was helpful to fully understand the goings-on during a scene. The sections of harmony of the music were outstanding, and they outshone many solo parts.
The Marriage of Figaro, directed by A. Scott Perry, is a sure choice for a night at the opera. This comic story is impressive with its overall quality and appeal.
Why do people go to the opera? It’s long compared to other forms of entertainment. It’s essentially a play set to music. On the other hand, opera won’t put you to sleep unless you are bored by jealousy, revenge, and lust. Plus, opera is NOT a dead form of art as many believe it to be. In fact, the fastest growing opera audience in the United-States is 20s to 30s…
…Opera’s are typically longer than most plays, but The Marriage of Figaro is definitely worth the sacrifice of time. This opera was easy to understand and comical. Jason Hardy, who made his Madison Opera debut, was a perfect fit for the role of Figaro. He’s appearance was forceful and strong. Not surprising because it was his third time playing the role of Figaro. He and Anya Matanovic made the perfect couple of Figaro and Susanna. The cast worked well together and are all well known. Jeff Mattsey, who was Count Almaviva is known worldwide for his signature baritone roles.
…The second the curtains opened, I was overwhelmed by how beautiful the show was visually. From the extravagant sets to the intricate and gorgeous costumes, it was clear the opera was not going to be a disappointment. As the show continued, I was swept away by the music’s beauty and how wonderfully the singers performed it. The two most impressive players, however, had to be Susanna, played by Anya Matanovic, and the Countess, played by Melody Moore. Their voices blended perfectly together and their talent was clear in their many duets and interactions throughout the show. Their comedic timing was also near perfection, and they never failed to get a laugh. Honestly, the only negative I could truly find about the show is the length of the opera itself…
Before attending Madison Opera’s production of “The Marriage of Figaro” (directed by A. Scott Parry, a Madison Opera newcomer), many seasoned opera-goers assured me that Figaro is an excellent “starter” for those of us who are only beginning to test the waters of the opera world, and based on my experience at the Overture Center on November 5th, their judgment is keen.
The plot unfolds over the course of a single day- and it sure has a lot of unfolding to do. Figaro (Jason Hardy) is the Count’s valet, and is ready to marry lovely Susanna (Anya Matanovic). On their wedding day, however, Susanna confesses to Figaro that the Count has been making advances on her, and Figaro is determined to thwart the Count’s prowl with his own cleverness. It becomes much more than the basic love triangle when an old housekeeper Marcellina (Melissa Parks) has plans of her own for Figaro, who did not repay a loan she granted to him, and for which he must atone by marrying the old woman. Factor in a lovesick pageboy named Cherubino (Emily Lorini) whose heart pounds for nearly any woman, and gossipy music master Don Basilio (James Doing), and the resulting shenanigans complicate not only Figaro and Susanna’s wedding plans, but the peace of just about everyone else…
Opera is considered a truly great cultural experience, so as a first time opera-goer, the only emotion I can honestly say I felt at first is overwhelmed. Before the show even began, I saw people far more dressed up than my collared shirt and black pants. The lieutenant-governor and the mayor of Madison both appeared to give a speech opening the fifth anniversary of the opera. And then, once the strains of the overture (classical music, already intimidating on its own), the curtain rose on a beautiful Greco-Roman set and the waves of that operatic soprano began to echo over the crowd. As an opera newcomer, it was initially terrifying. But when Figaro began using his ruler to perform an air guitar solo in time with the orchestra, I realized that I would not be in for the stilted, formal experience I was expecting. The Marriage of Figaro grew on me as it became a farce of miscommunication and botched plans.
Every marriage is complicated, but generally most partners do not have to deal with a jealous Count watching their every move, hoping to find a way to reinstate the policy of primae noctis in order to take advantage of the young bride. Figaro and Susanna, the lucky couple, cook up plans in order to escape the Count’s wrath. Unfortunately, they aren’t very good at explaining these plans to each other. From there, everything spirals out of control…