PRESS: Cape Town Opera presents Le Nozze di Figaro at Artscape Opera House

Allison Foat

 

Proudly sponsored by the City of Cape Town, Cape Town Opera presents Mozart's popular masterpiece, Le Nozze di Figaro at the Artscape Opera House from 18 to 26 June 2022. Thereafter it moves to Johannesburg's Roodepoort Theatre from 6 to 15 July as the first Judith Neilson Cape Town Opera Tour of 2022.

The production, a collaboration between Cape Town Opera (CTO) and the Gauteng-based Sempre Opera, is directed by CTO's Magdalene Minnaar, with set and costume design by Maritha Visagie and Rabia Davids, movement direction by Fiona du Plooy and lighting design by Nicolaas de Jongh.


The Cape Town Pops Orchestra, led by Lucia di Blasio-Scott, will be conducted by Schalk van der Merwe, whose fresh new presence on the podium befits an opera by a young composer: unbelievably, Mozart was barely 30 when he wrote Le Nozze di Figaro!


Director Minnaar relishes her part in staging what she sums up as "a perfect opera in every way", with good reason. In this gem of the repertoire may be found a symbiosis of farce, political comment and psychological finesse as sublime music is married to a rich text.


Sparkling but never superficial, beneath its shimmering surface darker issues still relevant today are discernible to alert audiences. This work is adapted from the second novel of a sprightly trilogy by the 18th century author Pierre-Augustin Caron (Beaumarchais). His cheerful cynicism matched the spirit of his age, and is clearly apparent in Le Nozze.


Here we have the sequel to Le Barbier de Séville, in which a younger, more sentimental Figaro promotes the obstacle-fraught romance and marriage of a lovelorn Count (Almaviva) and an equally smitten girl (Rosina). In Le Nozze di Figaro, a decade later, the lustre has worn off their once radiant union; the Count has become an inveterate lecher, and his Countess is understandably depressed.


Once more, Figaro comes to the rescue with the added incentive of jealousy, as his comely fiancée Susanna has caught Almaviva's wandering eye... and he is ably abetted by his betrothed in frustrating the adulterer's intentions. Between them the Count's social inferiors not only outwit Almaviva, but also contrive to reignite his love for the wronged Rosina. So all's well that ends well, in the best tradition of comic opera. To this central plot are added a couple of entertaining sub-plots to pique audience interest up to the dénouement.


The stellar all-South African cast features Conroy Scott as Figaro, Brittany Smith as Susanna, William Berger and Siphamandla Moyake as Count and Countess Almaviva, Megan Kahts in her trouser role début as Cherubino, Monica Mhangwana as Marcellina, Lwazi Dlamini as Bartolo, Siphesihle Mdena as Basilio/Don Curzio, Alida Stoman as Barbarina, Rouel Beukes as Antonio and the award-winning CapeTown Opera Chorus under the direction of Chorus Master Marvin Kernelle.


Minnaar and Visagie approached the production with a view to this year's CTO themes of Sustainability, Creativity and Diversity, in light of which they created modular set units for reuse in future productions on stages of varying sizes. Costumes, wigs, props and furniture form a sumptuous collection, judiciously upcycled from the existing CTO and Artscape stores. Inspired by the Rococo aesthetic, Minnaar opted for a period look-and-feel, but takes a few liberties here and there to enliven it with a slightly modern twist. All in keeping with Mozart's sense of fun. "I wanted to create a world inspired by the romanticism of artful decay. This, for me, not only encapsulated the story of the opera, but the world we live in," says Maritha Visagie.


Tickets for the Artscape performances are available at Computicket or through Dial-A-Seat on 021 421 7695, and through Webtickets for the Roodepoort season. All COVID protocols will be observed. For more info visit the Cape Town Opera website www.capetownopera.co.za and follow the behind-the-scenes journey on Instagram @capetownoperacompany and on Facebook. For more info email info@capetownopera.co.za.