‘The Marriage of Figaro’ Tacoma Opera to stage Mozart classic

scene_courtesy of Tacoma Opera
Tacoma Opera opens its 50th season with a production of “The Marriage of Figaro,” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Photo courtesy of Tacoma Opera

The Tacoma Opera is about to begin its 50th season with three performances of “The Marriage of Figaro.” Conducted by Clinton Smith and with Noel Koran as stage director, the opera features Misha Myznikov as Figaro and Jocelyn Thomas, in her Tacoma Opera debut, as Susanna. The role of Count Almaviva is taken on by Zachary Lenox (also making a Tacoma Opera debut) and Countess Almaviva is performed by Allison Pohl. Performances are scheduled for Sat., Oct. 28 and Fri., Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. Showings will take place at the Rialto Theater, 310 S. 9th St.

Considered by many to be the greatest opera ever written, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” tells how the servants Figaro and Susanna succeed in getting married, foiling the efforts of their philandering employer Count Almaviva to seduce Susanna and teaching him a lesson in fidelity. With an Italian libretto written by Lorenzo Da Ponte, the opera originally premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on May 1, 1786. The libretto is based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, “La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro” (“The Mad Day, or The Marriage of Figaro”), which was first performed in 1784.

From the first note to the last, “The Marriage of Figaro” is about the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and how that triumph can bring about a fundamental change in society. The story revolves around Count Almaviva’s desire to invoke the infamous droit du seigneur (the right of a ruler to sleep with a female servant before turning her over to her servant husband in marriage.) This “lord’s privilege” had been an entrenched feudal ritual for centuries and represented the aristocracy’s domination over the servant class. In the opera, the Count’s servants, Figaro and his bride-to-be, Susanna, challenge this ancient custom and the autocratic authority behind it. They challenge it with the only weapons at their disposal, their intuitive wit and their natural street smarts. They are “survivors” who lead their own private revolution, but unlike the real-life cataclysmic revolution that was to engulf France in the final years of the 1700s, their revolution was a happy one, thanks primarily to Mozart and Da Ponte.

The collaboration between Mozart and Da Ponte in “The Marriage of Figaro” nears operatic perfection, where every note Mozart composed brings Da Ponte’s text brilliantly to life and every word Da Ponte penned is brimming with desire, love and compassion. The result is possibly the most human and humane opera ever written. The characters are totally real in their longings, their joys and frustrations. They cope with the absurdity of their situation with a zest for life unequaled in opera. And they express themselves through the irrepressibly cheerful and supremely sublime music of Mozart.

Ticket prices range from $25 to $90. For more information visit tacomaopera.com or call (253) 627-7789.

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