UoT Opera’s fall production is Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro which opened last night at the MacMillan Theatre. It’s a period production directed by Michael Patrick Albano set in the “Opera 18th Century”; more Chatsworth than palace near Seville, but it looks pretty, the action is skilfully composed and the physical comedy works.
The singing and acting is rather good. The star, perhaps, is Korin Thomas-Smith as Figaro. He has an adequately powerful and pleasing voice, stage presence and a wicked grin. He also moves extremely well. That too can be said of Maeve Palmer’s elegant and playful Susanna. She is an excellent musician with real acting talent. With a bigger voice she would be a future star for sure. As it is we’ll see. Saige Carlson sang the Countess. Both of the big arias came off well with accuracy, feeling and some richness of tone. Nicholas Higgs was an elegant Count. He looks the part and sang well. Lindsay Connolly made the most of looking extremely awkward as Cerubino and sang the two key arias pleasingly. Marriage of Figaro at UoTI was particularly struck by Renee Fajardo’s Marcellina. It’s rare to see a young singer who can really pull it off but young (and pretty) Renee managed the “old hag” thing convincingly and with complete vocal assurance. Checking the back catalogue shows that she was equally impressive at TSMF 2018.
The rest of the cast and the chorus did very well too. The only quibble I’d have was around the ensembles. They were often not quite as crisp as one would like and one really notices that in something like the Act 3 sextet where timing is really important. There were coordination issues in the orchestra too which sounded a bit ragged especially in the last act. There were also intonation problems in the woodwinds right from the overture. Was the orchestra underrehearsed? I don’t know but I didn’t think it was the best performance in the pit I’ve heard from the normally extremely reliable Sandra Horst.
So there it is, essentially a Marriage of Figaro for the traditionalists, with some very good singing and acting. As is the norm with UoT Opera a second cast takes over tonight including Ensemble Studio prize competition winners Midori Marsh and Alex Halliday on show among others. Last night’s cast is back on Saturday night with the Marsh/Halliday team wrapping things up with a Sunday matinée.
Photos by Richard Lu.