Opera Queensland returned to QPAC in July with an atmospheric new Marriage of Figaro, Mozart’s lavish and laugh-out-loud rom-com.
Opera Queensland’s CEO & Artistic Director Patrick Nolan directed the popular work with conductor Dane Lam leading a cast of Australia’s finest singers, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and Opera Queensland Chorus. QPAC’s Playhouse sang with set and costumes by fast-rising Australian designer Marg Horwell (Lorelei). Lighting is by celebrated opera and theatre designer Bernie Tan-Hayes (Festival of Outback Opera).
The opera opens on the morning of Figaro (Jeremy Kleeman and Timothy Newton) and Susanna’s (Sofia Troncoso and Katie Stenzel) wedding day. However, their boss, the Count (José Carbó and Shaun Brown), wants Susanna for himself. And so begins one of the greatest love stories ever told.
“Our new production sets the story in a time where what was understood as power is crumbling as a new world emerges,” Nolan said. “It could be 1786, or is it 2021?”
“Our role as modern interpreters of the classics is to spark conversations about the relevance of the story to the here and now. The Marriage of Figaro holds a mirror to our most burning issues in 2021.”
This marks the second time Nolan has directed Mozart’s masterpiece. The first time was almost 20 years ago for Sydney Conservatorium. Nolan said he is excited by how the art form has developed since staging his first Figaro wedding.
The opera that changed the direction of the art form
“This is the opera that changed the direction of the art form. When it premiered in 1786 audiences were intrigued. They watched real people wrestling with feelings of desire, betrayal, remorse, unbridled lust… feelings they knew well themselves.
“For this new production, we’ve got an ensemble of exceptional singers who can also act and will really lean into the drama of the piece.
“That is key to Figaro’s enduring legacy. Opera up until that point in time centred on epic narratives about inaccessible characters. – gods, demigods, mythical creatures and the like.
“In Figaro, Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte introduced us to a unique musical language that is driven by the drama of the story. There’s a reason The Marriage of Figaro remains one of history’s most enduring operas and one of the world’s most performed. It is full of real, emotionally rich characters – flawed, funny, tragic, witty and very relatable.
“Mozart serves up the comedy of Faulty Towers. The Italian energy of La Dolce Vita and the emotional potency and epic drama of The Sopranos. What’s not to love?”
Furthermore, Opera Queensland’s next mainstage production will be Verdi’s sweeping epic Aida. Working with phenomenal new digital staging technology, director-choreographer Davide Livermore will create an extravagant theatrical experience. Opulent costumes and sensational visual effects reveal the glorious splendour of Egypt as never seen before.
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