UConn Opera Theater performs The Marriage of Figaro

The UConn Opera "The Marriage of Figaro" was performed in the J. Louis von der Mehden Recital Hall over the weekend. The opera, sung in latin, included a pit orchestra to accompany the singers. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

UConn Opera Theater returned to the stage to bring yet another comedic opera to life in von der Mehden Recital Hall on Friday, March 24.

“The Marriage of Figaro” (“Le nozze di Figaro”) is an opera by 18th-century composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  The opera was written in 1786 and is still one of Mozart’s best-known works to date.  It is based on the five-act play “La Folle Journeé, ou Le Mariage de Figaro,” by Pierre Beaumarchais, which is actually a sequel to his first play, “Le Barbier.”

“The Marriage of Figaro,” takes place in the 18th-century at Count Almaviva’s castle in Seville.  It is the wedding day of his good friends Figaro and Suzanne, the Countess’s maid.  Surprised that Suzanne has also caught the eye of the Count, Figaro’s anger drives him to foil the Count’s intentions.  The plan is that Suzanne will write a letter agreeing to see the Count, but will instead send the adolescent page, Cherubino, in her place.  The Count unexpectedly arrives while the group is carrying out their plan, and discovers this plot.  

Meanwhile, Figaro is reminded in a visit by Marcellina and her lawyer, Bartolo, that Figaro was to marry Marcellina if he failed to pay back her loan.  Surprisingly, we later find out that Figaro, who was abandoned as a child, was actually the son of Bartolo and Marcellina. It is this news that excites all, and couples Bartolo and Marcellina and Figaro and Suzanne, are married in a double wedding.  

Unfortunately, this marriage does not stop the Count’s intentions to pursue Suzanne.  So, the Countess and Suzanne create a plan where the Countess will meet the Count in the garden, disguised as Suzanne, which is where the Count’s affair is finally revealed.  The two then make up, and realize that they still have love for each other.  

The opera was performed in its written form of Italian, but the English translations were clearly projected above the set to help understand what was happening. It was about a three-hour production, but was filled with so many moments of joy, comedy, love and surprise that the audience was kept engaged through the final number, where the cast sings to the “sounds of a lively march, let’s make haste and celebrate.”

“The Marriage of Figaro,” was the second opera production of the semester for UConn Opera, following their earlier production of “H.M.S. Pinafore” in January. The cast, as well as the pit orchestra, represents the diverse rage of music degree types at UConn, from the bachelor’s degrees in music through doctorate of musical arts (D.M.A.).

The diversity of the production is a unique experience for all involved, not only making the experience enjoyable, but educational at the same time.

“Since most of the [cast] are Masters or DMA students, the pace moves pretty quickly and its quite intense,” fourth semester voice performance major Kareem Mack said. “However, the singers, musicians and directors do a great job of making you feel comfortable as opposed to amateur.”

“When I was an undergrad, I would watch the grads work in these ensembles and take things in.  It’s trained experience in music performance,” said Tony Leathem, who played Figaro and is pursuing his D.M.A. in voice performance. “It’s like being on a team … It’s a huge show and creates a real sense of comradery.”


Lucille Littlefield is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at lucille.littlefield@uconn.edu.