Opera Scotland

Nozze di Figaro 2015Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Read more about the opera Marriage of Figaro

Arguably the most dramatically accomplished of all operas, Mozart's Marriage of Figaro was staged by the creative team behind last year's Clemenza di Tito, Ashley Dean and Cordelia Chisholm. There was clearly little money available for sets and costumes, but as a training exercise to put students through their paces, in roles that they may realistically hope to perform regularly as professionals, this was an excellent enterprise.

Modern-dress Mozart usually creates more problems and inconsistencies than it solves, and there were certainly difficulties here, given the obvious reduction in class distinctions when all the men seem to be in grey suits. Nevertheless, the essentials were there, with the potential pitfalls of comic timing dealt with confidently, on a set that contained no walls, just a few doors and scattered elements of furniture.

Language is another thorny issue for student productions. Should they be asked to concentrate on singing and acting, rather than erecting a barrier that may inhibit their performances? An ability to perform Italian (and other languages) in a natural and relaxed way is simply a necessity for any singer working at a high level nowadays, especially with the ubiquitous benefit of surtitles. It was thus a relief to find that this cast was generally comfortable in the language, especially in the tortuous pages of recitative. A few fluffs here and there, but nothing you won't hear from time to time on the professional stage. And they sounded as though they understood what the words meant, not just parrot-learning.

The cast had no serious weakness. Hazel McBain and Arshak Kuzikyan were highly successful and articulate. Christopher Nairne was also excellent, making an unusually sympathetic figure of the Count - his early appearance as a lounge-lizard in dressing-gown also helped establish the differences of rank. Melanie Gowie (on 24 January) perhaps had more than the ideal vibrato in 'Porgi amor', but she quickly settled down. Grace Durham's Cherubino was notably well sung and enunciated (perhaps helped by her degree in Italian) - though her characterization seemed to fit in less easily than the others - a 'beatnik' outfit of denim jeans, lumberjack shirt and bomber jacket, with guitar strapped to his back in the second act, would not have been given houseroom even in this devalued Almaviva establishment.

In all, this was an excellent performance, not forgetting good contributions from orchestra and chorus under Timothy Dean.

The work can be seen again, 'semi-staged', at the Perth Concert Hall. Given the vestigial nature of the designs, that audience will certainly not have reason to feel short-changed.

(Perth prices £16, with £14 concessions and £5 for under 26s)

Performance Cast

Figaro the Count's valet

Arshak Kuzikyan

Susanna the Countess's maid

Hazel McBain

Cherubino the Count's page

Grace Durham

Count Almaviva

Christopher Nairne

Bartolo a doctor, the Countess's former guardian

Colin Murray

Marcellina Bartolo's housekeeper

Penelope Cousland

Don Basilio a priest and music master

Matthew Morgan

Countess Almaviva

Heather Jamieson (Jan 16, 19, 28)

Melanie Gowie (Jan 17, 24)

Antonio a gardener, Susanna's uncle

Jonathan Kennedy

Don Curzio a lawyer

Kenneth Reid

Barbarina daugher of Antonio

Klaudia Korzeniewska

First Peasant Girl

Charity Mapletoft

Second Peasant Girl

Svetlina Stoyanova

Performance DatesNozze di Figaro 2015

Map List

New Athenaeum Theatre | Glasgow

16 Jan, 19.15 17 Jan, 19.15 19 Jan, 19.15 24 Jan, 19.15

Perth Concert Hall | Perth

28 Jan, 19.00

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