“[The Marriage of Figaro] demands to be seen in the theatre. Its plot is complicated, but this is something to be relished not feared;
its complexity is part of the work’s raison d’etre.
Life is messy, and Figaro reflects that.”
Aidan Lang, General Director of Welsh National Opera
The closest I have previously come to an opera performance is the Pretty Woman scene where Julia Roberts laughs and cries her way through her first ever show. I have admittedly previously been a bit wary! Would I understand what was going on…? Having been lucky enough to recently see The Marriage of Figaro performed by the Welsh National Opera at the Bristol Hippodrome I realise I had little to fear. The main complication was working out where to put my attention. From the incredible opera performers, to the VERY handy subtitles, or to the fantastic orchestra just a few seats away from me.
The Marriage of Figaro is an opera buffa in four acts composed (quite incredibly) back in 1786 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with an Italian libretto (dialogue and lyrics) written by Lorenzo Da Ponte. As so succinctly summarised by Aidan Lang at the beginning of this post, the plot is quite complicated, so I will just give you a quick summary.
Set in an obscure palace of 18th century Southern Spain, it focuses on the wedding day of Susanna and Figaro, servants to the Count and Countess Almaviva. With concerns that the Count will revive the right for a Lord to sleep with his bride, Figaro constructs elaborate plans develop on how to scupper his master. Across four acts, we witness the cascading effects across the day as each plot causes another twist and turn…
The Marriage of Figaro provides an insight into a certain time and society – where marriage is used as a tool for greater social mobility and freedom. It covers differences in status, infidelity, moral challenges, vengeance and the power of forgiveness in a (mostly) jovial way (except for some fairly dark insights into how power could so badly be abused).
As situations get more and more bizarre and farcical, the more amusing it gets. Luckily, it all ends with a renewed hope and optimism. This is all set to the stunning music of Mozart, so beautifully played by the WNO orchestra, that so cleverly brings the emotion and drama of the characters’ stories to life.
Particular joy was also brought by Conductor, Carlo Rizzi’s “Cheers my Lover”” to Marcellina during her solo performance! A lovely Bristolian touch!
Welsh National Opera (WNO) is the national opera company for Wales. WNO is funded by the Arts Councils of Wales and England to provide large scale opera across Wales and to major cities in the English regions. For more information on The Welsh National Opera’s upcoming programme, see wno.org.uk.
Bristol Hippodrome has such an incredible line up of theatre, musicals, comedy and pantomime coming up! To see what’s coming up and get tickets head to: https://www.atgtickets.com/venues/bristol-hippodrome/
Or keep a close eye on their social media:
Disclaimer: I was provided the show tickets free of cost, however I was not asked to send any copy in advance and this didn’t affect my opinion of the event – all thoughts are my own.
All photo credits: Richard Hubert Smith