A marriage of style and substance
The Elgin Theatre
10/26/2017 - & October 28, 29, 31, November 3, 4, 2017
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro, K. 492
Douglas Williams (Figaro), Mireille Asselin (Susanna), Mireille Lebel (Cherubino), Peggy Kriha Dye (Countess Almaviva), Stephen Hegedus (Count Almaviva), Gustav Andreassen (Dr Bartolo), Laura Pudwell (Marcellina), Christopher Enns (Basilio, Don Curzio), Olivier Laquerre (Antonio), Grace Lee (Barbarina)
The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chorus, David Fallis (conductor)
Artists of Atelier Ballet
Marshall Pynkoski (director), Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg (choreographer), Gerard Gauci (set designer), Martha Mann (costume designer), Michelle Ramsay (lighting designer)
M. Asselin & D. Williams (© Bruce Zinger)
This has to one of the most highly caffeinated productions of Mozart’s great work. Both the musical and dramatic trajectories were completely in synch, though, and every exchange between the characters made abundantly clear (for example the intricate plot points about notes and that problematic pin).
The notable speed of the performance does not mean that it careens heedlessly along. There are well-considered ritardandos (one near the end of Cherubino’s first aria, which brings forth the character’s isolation) and even pauses (such as before the Count’s heartfelt apology to the countess in the final scene, so nicely expressed by Stephen Hegedus).
Once again OA employs Jeremy Sams’ translation and with it comes a veritable blizzard of surtitles. It seems a pity that we have to have both the translation and titles, but I’m afraid the titles are a help. Lots of words come across well but others simply do not. The one performer least in need of them is Gustav Andreassen as Bartolo.
The amazing thing about Opera Atelier is that the company's performing style, based on their idea of 17th-century French dance and stage comportment, has been fine-tuned to heighten the dramatic content of a work. (Of course it helps that in this case we are dealing with one of the masterpieces of the canon - but we’ve all seen such works treated carelessly, if not perversely.) The artificiality of the staging is further heightened by the idea that at first we see a group of commedia dell’arte players setting up their performance in a rich man’s salon (and we are his guests).
While most of the cast are OA regulars (two of them, Peggy Kriga Dye and Laura Pudwell repeating their roles of seven years ago), the new cast member (also debuting in his role) is Douglas Williams as Figaro. He seems a total natural to the role and to the OA style. It is nice to see that he will be returning for their spring production of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria.
The two Mireilles once again create delight in their roles, Ms. Asselin as the quick-witted Susanna and Ms. Lebel as the hormonal Cherubino. In this staging we see that the Countess is immensely attracted to Cherubino; this works when one considers the sequel to the piece where we learn that the Countess has born Cherubino’s child.
The orchestra under David Fallis is a marvel of energy. Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg’s dance episodes spring naturally from - and further heighten - the action.
There is an amazing amount of content crammed into the three-hour running time. I know people who are going a second time. Not a bad idea.