Lyric Opera has been seriously upping its contribution to the Irish opera scene over the last year, with their latest contribution arriving in the concert hall this week, in the shape of Mozart’s tale of love, lust and comedic deceipt – The Marriage of Figaro. Accompanied on the evening by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, under the baton of David Jones, their traditional portrayal of the story was certainly intruiging.
Taking a traditional set, the team took an unusual approach in placing a large raised screen centre stage, which on opening displayed a large picture of the composer. This picture changed from act to act, in a manner somewhat unrelated to the action, and was untimately an unneccesary addition to the set. The remainder of the set was very traditional and minimal.
The story of The Marriage of Figaro is, at moments, slightly complex. As with much opera of this time, comedy is created through disguising characters as other characters, creating insane situations, full of trickery and deceipt. This is always a challenge when staging an opera, and in this particular production, lapses in subtitles left large gaps in the libretto, and holes in the plot. For audience members who were, perhaps, unfamiliar with the plot before seeing this production, this may have led to some confusion.
Claudia Boyle, one of the rising stars of Irish opera, takes on the role of Susanna. A credible actor and performer, she appeared to struggle to be heard over the orchestra. This wasn’t exclusive to Boyle, however, with a number of cast members suffering with the same problem. John Molloy plays Figaro, and does so very well. A wonderful voice, and a fine actor, he brings the role to life. However, come the final act, small moments of weakness appear as the heavy vocal duties take their toll. Regardless, Molloy does a fantastic job, and the pair work extremely well together to portray star-crossed lovers. The count, played by James Cleverton is well sung and well acted. An arrogant and deceiptful character, Cleverton plays him with a good level of showmanship.
Two stars of the show appear in Irish performers Miriam Murphy and Jennifer Davis. Murphy brings the character of Marcellina to life, with Davis taking on the role of the countess. Two fantastic performers, Murphy adds a huge comedic value to the opera, and does not once struggle to be heard above the orchestra part. A fine actress and singer, she has a lot to offer to the production. Davis is the epitome of class and poise, and her portrayal of the Countess is extraordinary. She shows her extensive vocal capabilities, alongside a strong acting talent.
Many other solo roles brought together the performance, alongside a fine chorus. It remains to be said that this traditional take was slightly unhinged by some stagnant staging due to a lack of movement in parts, and some confusion over plot due to missing subtitles. Overall, a credible performance from Lyric on this traditional take on The Marriage of Figaro, and some faces to watch in opera in Ireland for 2013 have certainly been highlighted.