Opera Philadelphia

Published4 Apr 2017

A Powerhouse Cast Closes Opera Philadelphia’s 2016-2017 Season with a New Production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro

Opera Philadelphia’s celebrated 2016-2017 Season comes to a humorous conclusion with a new production of one of the greatest operas ever written, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, with five performances at the historic Academy of Music from April 28-May 7. The screwball comedy complete with disguises, surprises, and compromises, comes to life with an impressive cast of singers, many making their company debut under the leadership of conductor Corrado Rovaris, Opera Philadelphia’s celebrated Jack Mulroney Music Director.

Few operas are as delightful as Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Picking up where The Barber of Seville left off, Figaro, the wily barber and part-time matchmaker, has finally fallen in love. But, like everything else in his life, it's complicated. On the eve of Figaro’s marriage to Susanna, his master, Count Almaviva, sets his wandering eye on the lovely bride-to-be. Servant and master go head to head, and even the Countess Rosina gets in on the action when she learns of her husband’s desires. Or is she embroiled in a dangerous liaison of her own? From the opening notes of the overture to the touching final curtain, Mozart’s brilliant score delivers a love story mixed with farce and satire.

The new co-production, which premiered in November at Lyric Opera of Kansas City and will next travel to San Diego Opera and Palm Beach Opera, was hailed by The Kansas City Star for being “as beautiful as it is humorous, as sophisticated as it is raunchy.” Directed by Stephen Lawless, who led 2016’s crowd-pleasing production of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, the opera features set and costume designs by Leslie Travers, who describes the design of the opera as full of opulence and grandeur, with “luscious period costumes.”

The production boasts a cadre of impressive voices, beginning with real-life couple baritone John Chest and soprano Layla Claire, making their company debuts as the bickering Count and Countess Almaviva. Chest, who will represent the United States at the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in June, lends “the dark, rich colours” (Opera Now) of his voice to role of the Count. As the Countess, Claire brings “a rich dramatic soprano oozing with class and possibility” (The Guardian).

Also making her company debut is Chinese soprano Ying Fang as Susanna. Described as a “sunny voiced soprano” by The New York Times, she began her season with an acclaimed appearance as Elvira in Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri at the Metropolitan Opera, and impressed audiences with her “strong stage presence” and “beautiful” voice (The Philadelphia Inquirer) in concerts with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Joining them as Figaro is bass-baritone Brandon Cedel, whose last appearance on the Academy of Music stage was in the East Coast premiere of Kevin Puts’s Silent Night. That performance prompted New Yorker critic Alex Ross to proclaim Cedel “may be destined for stardom,” as his voice “boomed majestically through the dry acoustics of the Academy of Music.”

Mezzo Cecelia Hall, who “did a beautiful job of singing and presenting the resourceful, hardscrabble Ruby” (Opera News) in 2015’s Cold Mountain, returns as the flirtatious page, Cherubino. Bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi, whose 2016-2017 season began with a celebrated turn as Schaunard in Zeffirelli’s iconic Metropolitan Opera production of Puccini’s La bohéme, makes his company and role debuts as the comically creepy Dr. Bartolo, with Grammy-winning mezzo Lucy Schaufer, described as “splendidly gutsy” by The Telegraph, debuting as Marcellina. Tenor Jason Ferrante, who Opera News praises for “singing up a stylish storm,” also makes his company debut in the dual roles of Don Basilio and Don Curzio, with Opera Philadelphia Emerging Artists Ashley Milanese (soprano) as Barbarina and Thomas Shivone (bass-baritone) as Antonio.

The Marriage of Figaro
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
A new co-production with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, San Diego Opera and Palm Beach Opera
April 28, 30M, May 3, 5, 7M, 2017
Academy of Music
Performed in Italian with English Supertitles

Opera Philadelphia is committed to embracing innovation and developing opera for the 21st century. Described as “the very model of a modern opera company” by the Washington Post, Opera Philadelphia was the only American finalist for the 2016 International Opera Award for Best Opera Company. The company is charting a bold new path to September 2017, when Opera Philadelphia will open its 2017-18 season with an immersive, 12-day festival featuring seven operatic happenings in six venues throughout the city. The first festival, “O17,” will feature three world premieres and a Philadelphia premiere, plus the exclusive East Coast appearance of Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade’s groundbreaking production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and a recital by superstar soprano Sondra Radvanovsky. Opera Philadelphia will continue to present a spring season each year, including two additional productions in February and April, making it the only U.S. opera company producing an annual opera season that begins with a dynamic festival. For more information, visit operaphila.org.

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