Volume 94, Issue 85

Friday, March 2, 2001


Folkie James Keelaghan sings a historic tale

Opera, anyone? Student show shines

Opera, anyone? Student show shines

Heather Buchan/Gazette

Le Nozze Di Figaro
Starring: ensemble cast
Director: Theodore Baerg
Music Director: Susan Haig

By Heather Buchan
Gazette Staff

One can get very bored sitting through anything for three and a half hours, but Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), this year's selection for the music department's annual opera production, doesn't put the audience to sleep.

Presented by UWOpera and the UWO Chamber Strings Orchestra, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's hysterical opera is impressively sung entirely in Italian.

For those who aren't fluent in this romantic language, helpful English surtitles are projected onto a screen above the stage so you aren't completely lost in the twisted story of love, betrayal and reconciliation. Although the screen is helpful, audiences may at times find it quite distracting.

Figaro (Jon-Paul Decosse) and Susanna (Mallika Keister), servants of Count Almaviva, are to be wed, but there is a slight complication. The problem of the "droit du seigneur" arises, which is the right of the master to sleep with a maid before her wedding to a fellow servant.

Cherubino, the young page, finds himself the subject of an elaborate plot between Susanna and the Countess Rosina, who want to teach Almaviva a lesson. Figaro must also find a way to repay an old debt to noblewoman Marcellina.

After a huge fiasco, complete with ruses and disguises, Figaro discovers that Marcellina is in fact his birth mother. Despite the twists and turns along the way, the love between Susanna and Figaro survives, leading to the Count begging Rosina for forgiveness.

From the beautifully detailed costumes, to the colorful sets and dreamy blue backdrop – reminiscent of Monet's classic watercolors – the visual aspects of the opera are tremendously pleasing.

The baritones, bass-baritone, sopranos, mezzo-sopranos and tenors are all equally impressive and mesmerizing to listen to. Each performer has a respectable roster of achievements, and from the sounds of Le Nozze di Figaro, all are headed towards professional careers in opera. Together, the singers project a rich vocal range that fill Talbot's intimate theatre.

Lucia Cervoni delivers a hilarious performance as Cherubino and, as Susanna, Keister handles the role well with her astounding vocal and physical endurance, as she is in virtually every scene.

Timothy Kauk's portrayal of the Count lacks the emotional depth that his counterpart Susan Gouthro, convincingly displays. Throughout the show, the casts' voices are complemented by the harmonious melodies of the Chamber Orchestra.

The show also boasts two casts, which allows for the greatest number of students as possible to take part in this fully staged opera production. All of the talented performers are either undergraduate or graduate voice majors.

Premiered in Vienna in 1786 and hailed as a masterpiece, Le Nozze di Figaro, remains a brilliantly captivating opera experience, even today.

Director Theodore Baerg, who has headed Western's opera program since 1996 and musical director Susan Haig, have collaborated to create an engaging and entertaining theater experience for both lovers and non-lovers of opera.

Le Nozze di Figaro runs Mar. 1, 2 and 3 with performances at 7:30 p.m. and Mar. 4 with a 2 p.m. matinée. Tickets are $10 for students and seniors and $15 for adults, and are available through the Grand Theatre Box Office at (519) 672-8800.

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