Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I due Figaro (Amore Opera)

By Harry Forbes

Opera lovers, get thee hence to the enterprising Amore Opera which is currently offering a gem of a rediscovery: Saverio Mercadante’s tune-filled 1826 “sequel” to “The Marriage of Figaro.”

The action takes place 15 years after the events in Mozart’s opera (and Beaumarchais’ play) and involves the same sort of intrigue, this time revolving around the Count’s former page Cherubino who’s now in disguise as another “Figaro” and determined to win the hand of the Count and Countess’ daughter Inez whom the Count would marry off to an older suitor.

The music is closer to Rossini than Mozart, but it’s not just a watered down, second rate Rossini, but music of similarly high quality. Perhaps Rossini might have provided more contrasting moments of light and shade, but I’m not complaining about the steam of infectious melody that just bubbles along from start to finish. Riccardo Muti’s performance of the piece in Europe last year was hailed worldwide, so bravo to Amore for picking up on the buzz so quickly, and giving the work its New York premiere.

Company president Nathan Hull (currently playing an excellent Figaro in the concurrent Mozart work) has directed a delightful production, conducted with panache by Gregory Buchalter. The parts are mostly double cast, and at my performance, the standout of a strong roster was mezzo Hayden DeWitt’s Cherubino singing with smooth and stylish tone throughout.

Elizabeth Treat was an accomplished Susanna, like DeWitt, handling the high flying coloratura passages with ease. Rounding out the female contingent, Alea Vorillas’ Inez, the Almaviva daughter, proved a delightful comedienne, especially in her despondent second act aria where, as amusingly staged by Hull, she contemplates various methods of suicide. Though the part is smaller than in Mozart’s “Figaro,” Nicole McQuade was an attractively sung Countess, she, Treat, and Vorillas offering a most appealing trio in the first act.

In Mercadante’s work, Count Almaviva is a tenor again (as in “The Barber of Seville), and Gilad Paz sang strongly, while Daniel Quintana applied his virile baritone to the wily Figaro. But in librettist Felice Romani’s text, it’s really the women who dominate here.

The production is a treat. But hurry. The final performance is Friday, October 28.

(Connelly Theatre, 220 E. 4th St., or 1-888-811-4111)

Photo credit: Tal Karlin. Daniel Quintana (Figaro) is Figaro in Amore Opera’s American Premiere of Mercadante's hit 1826 opera "I due Figaro" ("The Two Figaros"). Print this post


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