Review: Fantastic ‘Figaro’ opens season of Opera Idaho

Wonderful cast and deft direction make ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ a success.

doland@idahostatesman.comNovember 10, 2013 

  • GO SEE IT

    Opera Idaho’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” 2:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Egyptian Theatre, 700 W. Main St., Boise. Tickets are $12-$69 at EgyptianTheatre.net.

Opera Idaho’s opening production gave everything you want in a good “Marriage of Figaro”: gorgeous voices, some clever bits and good acting.

It was clear that this cast just clicked — both vocally and in performance — and they make the most of Mozart’s superlative score.

Director David Cox’s production plays less for laughs — so no slapstick, door-slamming farce — and more for heart-filled, with rich performances and marvelous singing.

Mozart’s “Figaro” is both a sequel and prequel of sorts. He based it on Beaumarchais’ political comedy in 1786, which was the playwright’s sequel to “The Barber of Seville.” Rossini would later turn “Barber” into an opera in 1816.

This “Day of Madness,” the tagline to opera, takes place on Figaro and Susanna’s wedding day. But there are all kinds of intrigue and plot twists afoot to derail their plans.

Baritone Austin Kness led the way with a great turn as Figaro. His take on the character is less domineering, more manipulative, and sweet when he gets caught in his own trap. He’s definitely a performer to watch.

Susannah Biller’s feisty Susanna was a great match for Kness. Biller’s lovely soprano shone throughout, but was never more tender and touching than in her fourth-act love song “Deh vieni, non tardar.”

Boise-based baritone Jason Detwiler was in rare form as the Count, playing both the cad and penitent man with equal ease. Gretchen Windt was delightful as Cherubino (a male role usually sung by a woman), the lad who lusts after all the women, as was Amanda Gardner-Porter as his Barbarina.

As the trio who try to stop Figaro’s wedding, Suzanne Hansen (Marcellina), Dennis Rupp (Bartolo) and Dirk Robinson (Basilio) are wonderful to watch. Hansen is beautifully expressive.

But it’s soprano Diana McVey who gave the production its heart as the Contessa, with a deeply emotional portrait of a woman trying to save her marriage. Her remarkable voice soared on her lament “Dove sono” making it truly heartbreaking.

It’s all brought together by conductor Steven Crawford, who led the orchestra in a performance of the score that struck the perfect balance between the instruments and the voices.

Dana Oland: 377-6442, Twitter: @IDS_DanaOland

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