The Marriage of Figaro

Wed 25th – Sat 28th February 2015

reviews

Victoria Jane Seddon

at 23:49 on 25th Feb 2015

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Although relatively new to Opera, I was excited to experience an Opera in English. However, I was disappointed with the clumsiness of the translation. It felt clunky and, at times, the music and vocals felt at odds with each other. Subtitles would have been preferred; having said this listening in my native language made the music more attainable for a popular audience.

The prelude was exceptional and demonstrated the skill of the orchestra from the beginning. It was unfortunate that the percussionist/timpanist was not in the same area as the rest of the orchestra as this drew attention away from the pit and to the individual in particular. Saying that, this is by no way implying that her performance was in any way lacking.

I thought the 1920s flapper-style theme was a great twist on the Marriage of Figaro's typical period setting. The art deco set design was especially attractive as its simple, monotone colours and geometrical forms subtly enhanced the stage without detracting from the action. Lisa Williams's 'Marcellina' had a particularly sexy outfit. Top marks for the lace and heels! I admired in equal measure both Tom Norrington's ('Basilo') and Shaun Wood's ('The Count') velvet smoking jackets. Very high-class!

In general, the singing was impressive. However, some of the performers (mainly the women - apart from Marcellina) lacked diction. It probably didn't helped that our group arrived late and had to sit at the back. Certainly though their vocal range was excellent and had no struggle to hit the top notes. Their professional training had obviously helped their voices not to strain. Whilst they demonstrated a good acting ability for amateurs, at times it was a little wooden. However, this did not negate the brilliant facial expressions of both the Count and Figaro. I was entranced. Robert Brocklehurst, ‘the gardener’, was very funny too.

In conclusion, although the lighting department struggled to keep pace with the plot when the stage was plunged into darkness, the Marriage of Figaro is an opera most definitely worth the entry price. Get your tickets quick!

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Cara Loukes

at 00:06 on 26th Feb 2015

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An opera virginity lost.

Mozart’s ‘The marriage of Figaro’ was an excellent performance by the University of Bristol’s Operatic Society, appreciated by a well receiving audience. As a first time-opera goer I was initially sceptical of what the night was to bring. However, these fears were immediately eradicated once the orchestra began the delightful prelude and the easy to follow musical dialogue had me tingling to the spine.

A charmingly quaint orchestra provided a solid foundation for the show. I was particularly impressed by the dexterity of all the players, who skilfully weaved the opera together.

We were pleasantly surprised by the quirky combination of cheeky humour and dramatic performance witnessed. The smooth twenties theme was sophisticated and engaging, highlighting the light hearted dynamic of the original opera. This was enhanced by mood lighting, period costume and understated set design, which drew parallels with 'The Great Gatsby' film set.

Supporting roles provided a strong chorus and complementary on-stage presence, with many an accomplished artist. Of particular note were the performances of the Countess and Marcellina, played by Meg Dickson and Lisa Williams, who brought a palpable passion and conviction to the show. The solo performed by the Countess in Act 3 was especially powerful and delivered with an impressive quality.

Perhaps at times the harmonies of the piece didn’t quite fit together, but this was probably due to a clamminess of translation into English which caused these clashes. However, I think it was a good compromise to be a more audience-friendly English version and this outweighed the minor clashes in harmonies. Importantly, I feel the very essence of Motzart’s original operatic score was perfectly distilled into the English translation even it jarred with the music.

Despite a few technical errors with the lighting, this did not detract from the superiority of the performance. An excellent performance overall, a well-deserved four stars.

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