a blanket of blue: Petrova in The Marriage of Figaro.
Marriage of Figaro
Opera, July 22
It may have been his wedding, but Figaro, played by Patrick
Carfizzi, didn’t make much of a first impression on Thursday
night at Glimmerglass Opera. In fact, some of the lines in
his first major aria (Se vuol ballare) were delivered
weakly and slightly off pitch. It was an introduction that
made me want to run from the opera house, or fall asleep—whichever
Yes, The Marriage of Figaro and Barber of Seville
were salacious, provocative material in their day, addressing
the excesses and liberties taken by the aristocracy, but this
The Marriage of Figaro played out more like bad romantic
comedy because the orchestra was drowned out and the delivery
felt more quirky—without the emotional potency that can explode
the heart strings with thoughts of love, longing, heartache
For an opera buffa, certain elements of Glimmerglass’s original
production of The Marriage of Figaro seemed a bit stiff.
The set consisted of wood paneling that in some light resembled
plywood and in others a carpenter’s nightmare, accented by
the occasional bit of furniture. The costumes, however, were
sharp—the it was set in the early 19th century rather than
the traditional 18th. The orchestra, under the direction of
David Angus, didn’t seem strong enough to fill the room; any
singer with a decent set of lungs was able to overwhelm Mozart’s
Thankfully, the performance had a number of saving graces,
the most significant of which was Susanna, played by the stunning
Lyubov Petrova. Her voice was on key, clear, lively and at
times punctuated by fantastic ornamentation. Her duet with
Marcellina, who was played by mezzo-soprano Courtney McKeown,
was rousing, hysterical even, and benefited from some of the
best direction of the evening, as both women suspiciously
glared at each other until wrapped up in a tempestuous battle.
The direction otherwise consisted mainly of: sit and sing,
stand and sing, look away and sing, look towards him and sing.
It wasn’t particularly engaging.
But happily, there was another particularly thrilling vocal
performance, this one by Barbarina, played by Haeran Hong,
a member of the Young American Artists Program. Barbarina’s
aria, L’ho perduta, was perhaps one of the strongest
vocal performances of the evening. Although brief, it ached
with longing and loss. Perhaps a minor character should be
played more meekly, but it was a treat to hear Hong use her
lungs to full effect. She had a purity to her voice that none
of the others had.
the lover’s farce rolled on it seemed the rest of the singers
grew surer of themselves. Carfizzi began delivering his lines
in commanding fashion, especially in the midst of the many
ensembles. And Petrova had more opportunity to show off her
brilliance while playing off of Countess Almaviva, played
by Caitlin Lynch. The women intertwined their voices, playing
with ornamentation in a tasteful manner.
Count Amaviva, sung by Mark Schnaible, probably did the most
acting of the entire cast but his singing was only adequate
until he delivered his aria, Vedro mentr’io sospiro.
The cast seemed to pick up confidence heading into the absurd
climax, but the pacing and direction killed a lot of the momentum.
When the last lines had been sung I knew the performance was
over, but was still waiting for more, hoping for maybe one
more line sung by Petrova or Hong.