On the night before the wedding, what could possibly go wrong? Just about everything in The Marriage of Figaro by W.A. Mozart.
When a rich Count attempts to seduce his wife’s chambermaid just 24 hours before she walks down the aisle, Susanna and her fiancé Figaro join forces with the spurned Countess to deliver an unforgettable lesson in love. The satisfyingly subversive story of servants toppling nobility fittingly debuts at the Canadian Opera Company on the master composer’s birthday, with The Marriage of Figaro running for eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on January 27, 29, February 2, 4, 10, 12, 16, and 18, 2023.
The acclaimed Claus Guth production was originally commissioned by the Salzburg Festival to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth and was immediately labelled a “masterpiece” (Bloomberg). Inspired by the modern plays of August Strindberg and probing films of Ingmar Bergman, Guth’s concept strips away the farcical comedy often associated with opera buffa, opting instead for barbed humour, styled in a subdued palette that plays up the abstract drama of human relationships. Marcelo Buscaino of Brazil joins the creative team as Revival Director, alongside German set and costume designer Christian Schmidt, whose sparse and crumbling, monochromatic manor sets a surreal tone for the plot twists ahead. The opera’s action all leads up to a dramatic showdown in the garden, cleverly created here with shadows by video designer Andi A. Müller and lighting by Olaf Winter.
Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni returns to Toronto as Figaro, following his stellar performance in the COC’s Maometto II (2016) which The Globe and Mail hailed as a “triumph.” Pisaroni is joined by two artists making COC debuts: American soprano Andrea Carroll, who brings her “vibrant, expressive singing” (Opera News) to the role of Susanna, and Australian soprano Lauren Fagan, who Opera Magazine has praised for “sing[ing] luminously,” as the Countess. Canadian bass-baritone and Ensemble graduate Gordon Bintner as the Count; Bintner most recently delighted COC audiences as Papageno this past spring in The Magic Flute and, previously, as the proud and callous title character in Eugene Onegin. Also returning to the COC mainstage are: American mezzo-soprano Emily Fons as the mischevious young page Cherubino, Canadian bass Robert Pomokov as Dr. Bartolo, American mezzo-soprano Helene Schneiderman as the housekeeper Marcellina, and Irish-Canadian tenor Michael Colvin as music teacher Don Basilio. Canadian baritone Doug MacNaughton and Canadian-American soprano Mireille Assselin round out the list of vocalists returning to Toronto, as the gardener Antonio and his daughter Barbarina, respectively, while Acadian tenor Jacques Arsenault makes a COC debut in the role of the judge Don Curzio.
This particular production features the creation of Cherubim, an additional silent character seen throughout the opera, often manipulating other characters and representing love’s forceful push and pull; he is played by German actor Uli Kirsch, who reprises the role from 2016.
One full century after Figaro’s creation, the prolific composer Johannes Brahms remarked, “It is totally beyond me how anyone could create anything so perfect.” Since then, music from the opera has featured in several films and television shows including Mad Men, The Shawshank Redemption, and The King’s Speech. British conductor Harry Bicket, current Music Director with Santa Fe Opera, returns to the COC podium to lead the company’s acclaimed COC Orchestra through one of Mozart’s most brilliant and powerful scores, alongside the COC Chorus guided by Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst. The Marriage of Figaro is sung in Italian and presented by the COC with English SURTITLES™.
Single tickets for The Marriage of Figaro range from $35 to $250 for adults, with Grand Ring seats available at $290 and $350, and $22 tickets available for guests between the ages of 16 and 29 through the COC’s Opera Under 30 program. Tickets can be purchased online at coc.ca or by calling the Four Seasons Centre Box Office at 416.363.8231 or visit coc.ca
The COC would like to acknowledge: Season Sponsor: BMO Financial Group Production underwritten in part by Howard & Sarah D. Solomon Foundation in honour of Alexander Neef. Production originally built by the Salzburg Festival in celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. The COC Orchestra is generously sponsored, in part, by: W. Bruce C. Bailey, in honour of Christie Darville, COC Deputy General Director, and Johannes Debus, COC Music Director