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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 3:19 am | Fair 41º


Opera Santa Barbara’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ Opens Friday

The production, including Sunday's matinee, features two Music Academy of the West alumnus

Opera Santa Barbara announces a classic production of Wolfgang Mozart’s great comic masterpiece, The Marriage of Figaro.

His masterwork focuses on the delicate and historically controversial interplay between the 18th-century nobility and serving class in a way that is both humorous and touchingly human. Considered by many to be the most perfect opera ever written, Mozart’s music is well-crafted and sophisticated as well as tuneful and infectious and Da Ponte’s dialogue is subtle, witty and involving.

Jason Detwiler (Count Almaviva) and Karen Vuong (Susanna) in Opera Santa Barbara's The Marriage of Figaro, opening Friday.
Jason Detwiler (Count Almaviva) and Karen Vuong (Susanna) in Opera Santa Barbara’s The Marriage of Figaro, opening Friday. (Kevin Steele photo / Opera Santa Barbara)

The Marriage of Figaro opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday with an additional performance at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, at the Granada Theatre, 1214 State St. Tickets range from $28 to $188. Call 805.899.2222.

The Marriage of Figaro is an operatic cornerstone.” Opera Santa Barbara Artistic Director José Maria Condemi said. “This is the rare comedy that reaches a level of humanity few tragedies manage to achieve; Mozart’s masterpiece demonstrates that class politics are no obstacle to the richness of human intellect and the spontaneity of human emotion.”

The story unfolds as jack-of-all-trades Figaro and the lovely Susanna, both servants to Count Almaviva, prepare for their much-anticipated wedding. Unknown to Figaro, the Count has his eye on Susanna and plans to exercise his “droit de seigneur,” his right as a nobleman to sleep with any servant on her wedding night. When the Countess, pining away in her loveless marriage, catches wind of her husband’s adulterous advances, the action takes off. In a single, whirlwind day, delightful mayhem ensues, concluding with one of the most touching and human finales in all of opera.

Figaro’s beginnings were contentious. The original play, by Pierre Beaumarchais, was banned by ruling authorities in France and is credited with leading to the French Revolution. Mozart’s opera made the Austrian monarchy more than a little bit nervous.

Both the play and the opera clearly illuminate the limitations of rank and privilege, showing that common sense can readily overcome wealth and power, and that genuine humility easily upstages unwarranted arrogance.

The Cast

The cast includes many exciting company debuts in leading roles. Singing the title role is bass-baritone Brandon Cedel (company debut). He comes to Santa Barbara directly from winning first prize in the prestigious George London Competition. Before his local professional debut, Cedel was a fellow at the Music Academy of the West.

Soprano Rhoslyn Jones makes her company debut as the Countess Almaviva, a role she debuted with the Vancouver Opera.

The dashing baritone Jason Detwiler makes his company and role debut as the Count Almaviva.

Soprano Karen Vuong (company debut) will sing Susanna. An inaugural member of the Los Angeles Opera’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program and another former Music Academy fellow, Vuong won first place in the 2011 Marilyn Horne Song Competition and will star as Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Juilliard School later this season.

Mezzo-soprano Evgenia Chaverdova makes her company debut as Cherubino.

Stage Director Kelly Robinson makes his OSB debut, and conductor Valery Ryvkin (38 productions since 1995, most recently La Traviata in 2011) returns to the podium. Classic sets and costumes are designed by Susan Benson for the Banff Centre. Sung in Italian with English translations.

— Steven Sharpe is the general director of Opera Santa Barbara.

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