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Figarock around the clock

Santa Fe
The Crosby Theater
07/10/2021 -  & July 14, 23, August 3, 10, 14, 18, 21, 24, 27, 2021
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro, K. 492
Vanessa Vasquez (Countess Almaviva), Ying Fan (Susanna), Megan Marino (Cherubino), Samuel Dale Johnson (Count Almaviva), Nicholas Brownlee (Figaro), Patrick Carfizzi (Don Bartolo), Susanne Mentzer (Marcellina), Lindsay Kate Brown (Marcellina, Aug, 24 & 27), Brenton Ryan (Don Basilio), James Creswell (Antonio), Thomas Cilluffo (Don Curzio), Cheyanne Coss (Barbarina), Alaysha Fox, Ruby Dibble (Bridesmaids)
Santa Fe Opera Chorus, Susanne Sheston (Chorus Mistress), Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, Harry Bicket (Conductor)
Laurent Pelly (Stage Direction), Chantal Thomas (Scenic Design), Jean-Jacques Delmotte (Costume Design), Duane Schuler (Lighting Design)

Y. Fan (© Curtis Brown for SFO)

After almost two years of darkness, Santa Fe’s spectacular opera house turned the lights back on last night to an ecstatic audience. The launching of the sixty-fourth season was marked by musical quality, a palpable sense of normalcy despite face coverings, laid back Southwestern elegance – or absence thereof – with dressy cowboy outfits, shimmering evening gowns, and, yes, baggy shorts and Birkenstock sandals, Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops.

Acclaimed French director Laurent Pelly is an habitué of Santa Fe Opera: Massenet’s Cendrillon in 2006, La Traviata in 2009, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale in 2014, and Bernstein’s Candide in 2018. This season, he returns to New Mexico with an effervescent and commendably stylish Marriage of Figaro. Moving the action to the 1940s is certainly not reprehensible, but the true qualities of Pelly’s staging lie elsewhere. Remaining within the time constraint imposed by Beaumarchais’ subversive comedy: The Mad Day, or The Marriage of Figaro, Pelly wants to make sure we remember that the action takes place in one day. For this purpose, he uses a large array of cogwheels of various sizes. All rotate smoothly until some insubordinate valet decides to disrupt the well-greased mechanism of social classes. Figaro had warned us in the first act: “If you would dance, my pretty Count, I’ll play the tune on my little guitar.” Hats off, Monsieur Pelly.

The assembled singing cast is praiseworthy, receiving a well-deserved ovation at curtain calls. Former SFO apprentice singer Nicholas Brownlee is a characterful Figaro, insolent and likeable to perfection. His firm-toned bass-baritone projects with exceptional clarity and vigor. Ying Fan is a most enchanting Susanna, delectable and provocative, with a sparkling soprano. Vanessa Vasquez also garners loud applause. Her Countess is radiant, noble, with a golden tone of voice. "Porgi, amor..." and “Dove sono...” are sung with melting simplicity and style. Baritone Samuel Dale Johnson is firm and virile, giving a dark, sharply defined reading of Count Almaviva. Megan Marino gives a well-contrasted and vivacious account of Cherubino. All supporting roles are valuable assets to the singing quality of this production. Patrick Carfizzi sings a fast and agile “La vendetta.” Susanne Mentzer has often sung trouser roles and excelled in Cherubino. Here, she is a perfectly frivolous Marcellina. Brenton Ryan is a fine Don Basilio, unfortunately, deprived of his Act IV aria, as is often the case, while Cheyanne Coss is a delightful Barbarina.

In the pit, the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra under Harry Bicket delivers a routine, honorable performance. The cloudiness of focus leads at times to a bland result.

Santa Fe Opera

Christian Dalzon



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