Opera Philadelphia

Published23 Aug 2017

Opera on the Mall broadcast of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro joins O17 festival in September

FREE, HD broadcast presented through PNC Arts Alive takes place at Independence National Historical Park on Saturday, Sept. 23

Opera Philadelphia’s recently concluded new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro was a hit with audiences and critics, called “ceaselessly clever” and “easily recommendable” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, and “fresher, sassier, and more dazzling than ever” by Philadelphia Magazine. Opera fans and the opera-curious who missed out on five spring performances at the Academy of Music will have another chance to experience the classic comedy, this time for free and al fresco, as Opera Philadelphia presents an HD broadcast of the opera on Saturday, September 23, at 7:00 p.m. as part of its annual Opera on the Mall series at Independence National Historical Park.

Opera on the Mall: The Marriage of Figaro, presented by PNC Arts Alive, is part of O17, Opera Philadelphia’s inaugural festival featuring twelve days of operatic events all over the city from September 14-25. FREE tickets will be available to the public starting on Wednesday, August 23.  You can score your free tickets to Opera on the Mall beginning at 10 a.m. at operaonthemall.org

Opera on the Mall
Credit: Dominic M. Mercier

In what has become a beloved annual tradition to launch the fall cultural season in Philadelphia, our community will gather to enjoy one of the most popular operas of all time. Opera Philadelphia’s 2016-2017 season-closing performance of Mozart’s comedic masterpiece will be broadcast in high definition to two giant outdoor screens in the shadow of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Now in its seventh year, Opera on the Mall has been enjoyed by more than 25,000 members of the Philadelphia community.

Regarded as one of the greatest operas ever written, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro is a 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. 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 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).

Marriage of Figaro
Brandon Cedel as Figaro and Ying Fang as Susanna in THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO. Credit: Kelly & Massa for Opera Philadelphia

Also making her company debut is Chinese soprano Ying Fang as Susanna, a performance called “a sheer delight in every scene, in every way,” (Operatoonity). 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 “a dramatically lively Figaro” (Philadelphia Magazine) 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 stars in a dual role in the O17 production of War Stories at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (September 16-23), returns as the flirtatious page, Cherubino, with “a sweet swagger, physically and vocally,” (HuffPost).

This is the seventh year Opera Philadelphia will conduct a free broadcast at Independence National Historical Park, and the first time the event will part of the company’s new annual fall opera festival.

Last year, some 4,000 guests enjoyed a broadcast of Puccini’s Turandot from their picnic blankets and chairs. Event information is available at operaonthemall.org or by calling 215.732.8400. 

Opera on the Mall is presented through PNC Arts Alive, a multi-year initiative of the PNC Foundation dedicated to supporting visual and performing arts groups with the goal of increasing arts access and engagement in new and innovative ways. The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group, actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. To date, through PNC Arts Alive approximately $13 million in grants have been awarded to enterprising cultural organizations in four regions served by PNC. For more information, visit www.pncartsalive.com.

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