The Marriage of Figaro
12th April 2019
Auden Theatre, Holt
Type of Production
Author: Susan DuPont
NNCO in their adaptation of ‘The Marriage of Figaro’. How clever to transport to 1930s California and the home of a newspaper mogul (very Gatsby), Sky Carver did a good job with this.
Also how clever to adapt all the recit into a story-telling dialogue delivered in style by the trio household staff so that all in audience well abreast of the intricate happenings and subterfuge and to keep the pace good whilst leaving the beautiful Mozart intact (Molly Percival, Berni Alexandrou, and Christine Blakemore, plus Janet Bryant-Heron delivered).
A double casting of Susanna, I saw Melissa Sampson but certain that Samantha Hawkins delivered just as well on alternate nights. This is a very big role with some intricate and demanding singing plus acting and certainly we were convinced in this performance of Susanna’s feelings for Figaro and her determination to avoid the Count, an excellent delivery throughout, good personality, and sparkling vocals.
As Figaro, how good to see the return of John Clack with his good baritone, the sound delivery, and twinkle in the eye as he tried to understand all situations, worked very well with his Susanna.
A strong and energetic portrayal of the Count from Adam Robinson, certainly he wanted his way with the ladies, a music student from Huddersfield found by the MD in her opera travellings. Another student for the Countess (Catherine Joule) from Trinity College getting the chance of a wished-for role and those high notes through her studies with the MD. How fortunate NNCO with their underground networks for future professional talent.
Good solid support from the more minor roles: Des Holmes doubling (with wig) the roles of Basilio and of Don Curzio, always such a reliable singer in NNCO and good exposure of his voice in the two parts; a zany and lively Cherubino from Katherine Jones; a good couple from Peter Walters as Dr Bartalo and a glamorous Marcellina in very Gatsby costumes from Kay Holmes, these two sound and they gelled well; and of course the tiny role of Antonio the gardener with his broken flower-pot from Guy Hewitt. I was concerned about the size of the company for an ambitious production but certainly the singing of that wonderful finale ensemble showed no lack of notes and power to send us out in great melody mood.
Simple but effective settings by Crispin Clark, with minimal movement by cast.
And finally to the king-pin and inspiration: the MD Susannah Self: how wonderful for NNCO to have had her professional input the last few years and sadly for them her opera network is reducing her time commitments and she may not be available another year. What a difference having such tuition, and dedication, and inspiration has made to the company and what it can tackle from the opera repertoire, and how the group has benefitted from her expertise. Not only her input, but husband Michael Christie undertook again to score the Mozart for a Chamber Orchestra of 8 players (including himself) and give to us the most perfect musical offering under the baton of his wife, we knew how good the evening would be just listening to the overture.