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Opera Ends Season With Figaro's High Note

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was pretty damn good at composition. The virtuoso’s life and work inspired several movies and hundreds of books. His work is as close to sing-along music as the classical genre has to offer. So, when the New Orleans Opera Association chose to stage his The Marriage of Figaro this weekend, they had a success before the curtain even lifted.




The overture of the masterwork is immediately recognizable. Once again, Robert Lyall directed members of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) flawlessly and the stage was set.


If Figaro was a contemporary film, we would label it an “ensemble cast.” The plot line weaves together 11 major characters into a series of twists and turns complex enough to make House of Cards feel like the Cat in the Hat.


The comedy’s narrative is far too complex to present a simple summary, but an introduction can be attempted. Basically, Figaro and Sussana are set to be married, but a series of bizarre love triangles mess with the mix. Complicating matters more, the Count and Countess are involved in several of these scenarios making death or conscription a frightening possibility for the losers. A series of ploys, many involving costuming (NOLA’s favorite pastime) are employed by the characters to trick one another into seeing the light.


The intermingling of so many characters allows for a wide array of musical combinations. The score calls for five sopranos, four basses, and two tenors make for some enticing combinations. The nearly 20 straight minutes of music that provide the finale of Act II and the famed sextet in Act III meld so many voices in stunning fashion. Twyla Robinson as Countess Almaviva does not miss a note in “Dove sono i bei momenti" (“Where are they, the beautiful moments”).


As Susanna, Lisette Oropesa pulls of the the notable aria “Venite, inginocchiatevi “ (“Come, kneel down before me”) perfectly. However, Oropesa’s best moments come through her mastery of the physical humor so prevalent in the play. She executes slapstick with the skill of Charlie Chaplin and keeps the audience laughing so hard that the music occasionally feels like lagniappe. Kudos must be given for the blocking in the work.


The rest of the cast does an admirable job of keeping the pace. Keith Phares as Count Almaviva, Kostas Smoriginas as Figaro, Julie Boulianne as Cherubino, Cindy Sadler as Marcellina, Torrence Blaisdell as Basilio, Thomas Hammons as Bartolo, Kameron Lopreore as Don Curzio, Kenneth Weber as Antonio, and Aurora Serafine as Barbarina all excel.


The set is classic, but well suited for the show. It is always refreshing to see the grand sets that one expects of opera as opposed to modern adaptations.

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

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