Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro - one crazy day

'A pacey production with no dull bits'

'A pacey production with no dull bits'

Susanna, played by Alicia Cadwgan, and Cherubino (Barbara Paterson) prepare for the Count’s wrath when he discovers Cherubino hiding in Susanna’s room in Wanderlust Opera’s touring production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Picture supplied

There are in fact only so many notes the ear can hear in the course of an evening,” says the emperor in Peter Schaeffer’s Mozart-based play, Amadeus.

But a superfluity, excess and abundance of notes was not what inspired Wanderlust Opera company’s producer/translator Georgia Jamieson Emms to make judicious cuts to Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.

It was a love of opera and deep desire to inspire others to love it too.

The famous opera’s plot sounds straightforward enough. Set over the course of “one crazy day” in the household of Count Almaviva, barber-turned-valet Figaro and his fiancee, Susanna, join forces with the Countess to outsmart their employer’s intent to seduce Susanna, and teach him a lesson in fidelity.

Mozart’s libretto (text) is written in Italian and there are possibly too many subplots.

“The original is quite complicated with subplots,” says Emms.

“We wanted to keep the momentum up. We had to cut some characters and plot bits but we’ve made it cohesive.”

Emms translated the libretto from Italian into English, and made cuts to trim performance time from three-and-a-half hours to two hours. The cast has also been cut back to six, clearly-drawn characters.

The cuts do not hurt the work, says Emms. Wanderlust Opera’s show appeals to both purists and those unfamiliar with opera.

Entertaining and accessible

“It’s tough to convince people to go to a foreign film with subtitles, let alone opera. A translation was the best way to reach an audience.”

In making changes to the libretto the Wanderlust team considered how to cut the work down to a two-hour performance while keeping intact songs from Mozart’s comic opera that people love, and not upset opera buffs.

“We wanted it to be a show people might know nothing about but would maintain the essence of Mozart and the comedy. You always have to think how to present opera to people. You want to bring them in and give them a taste of it.

“We’ve found a good way to navigate the work. It’s a pacey production with no dull bits.”

The production is an opportunity for young people to experience opera but opera lovers will love it as well, says Emms.

“If you know the work, you’ll laugh your head off.”

To enhance community engagement a pop-up chorus, ideally of young people, is called for at each centre.

“Every centre has had a population of young people. This is our way of getting more community involvement

The pop-up experience

“The story needs a chorus for one of the plot points, then they come in again to sing in a wedding scene so they get to perform twice in the show,” says Emms.

“This could be the first time they have performed in or even seen an opera.”

At every centre the production has been staged in audiences have loved seeing locals in the show.

“In Hamilton we had a chorus of 10 to 12 girls and in Wellington we phoned up singing friends and gave them the music.”

The pop-up chorus of rustics for Wanderlust Opera’s Gisborne performance is made up of about 12 young female singers, some of whom are tutored by musical director Gavin Maclean, and about a dozen seasoned singers from the Choral Society.

“You have to be flexible,” says Emms.

“That’s what we’re all about — being innovative and trying to escape from stereotypes associated with opera. There is still a stigma around opera in New Zealand — a view it is elitist, stuffy and too expensive.”

Emms has loved the challenge of presenting a production that is entertaining and accessible while ensuring it stays true to the spirit of one of the world’s most frequently performed operas.

“People come up to us after a performance and say ‘I finally understand the plot at last’.

“We’re having so much fun with it. It’s pretty difficult not to enjoy yourself. Mozart was a prankster with a great sense of humour. People say he would have appreciated this production.”

  • The Marriage of Figaro - one crazy day, War Memorial Theatre, March 31, 7.30pm.
  • Tickets can be bought from www.ticketdirect.co.nz or Stephen Jones Photography at 111 Gladstone Road.

There are in fact only so many notes the ear can hear in the course of an evening,” says the emperor in Peter Schaeffer’s Mozart-based play, Amadeus.

But a superfluity, excess and abundance of notes was not what inspired Wanderlust Opera company’s producer/translator Georgia Jamieson Emms to make judicious cuts to Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.

It was a love of opera and deep desire to inspire others to love it too.

The famous opera’s plot sounds straightforward enough. Set over the course of “one crazy day” in the household of Count Almaviva, barber-turned-valet Figaro and his fiancee, Susanna, join forces with the Countess to outsmart their employer’s intent to seduce Susanna, and teach him a lesson in fidelity.

Mozart’s libretto (text) is written in Italian and there are possibly too many subplots.

“The original is quite complicated with subplots,” says Emms.

“We wanted to keep the momentum up. We had to cut some characters and plot bits but we’ve made it cohesive.”

Emms translated the libretto from Italian into English, and made cuts to trim performance time from three-and-a-half hours to two hours. The cast has also been cut back to six, clearly-drawn characters.

The cuts do not hurt the work, says Emms. Wanderlust Opera’s show appeals to both purists and those unfamiliar with opera.

Entertaining and accessible

“It’s tough to convince people to go to a foreign film with subtitles, let alone opera. A translation was the best way to reach an audience.”

In making changes to the libretto the Wanderlust team considered how to cut the work down to a two-hour performance while keeping intact songs from Mozart’s comic opera that people love, and not upset opera buffs.

“We wanted it to be a show people might know nothing about but would maintain the essence of Mozart and the comedy. You always have to think how to present opera to people. You want to bring them in and give them a taste of it.

“We’ve found a good way to navigate the work. It’s a pacey production with no dull bits.”

The production is an opportunity for young people to experience opera but opera lovers will love it as well, says Emms.

“If you know the work, you’ll laugh your head off.”

To enhance community engagement a pop-up chorus, ideally of young people, is called for at each centre.

“Every centre has had a population of young people. This is our way of getting more community involvement

The pop-up experience

“The story needs a chorus for one of the plot points, then they come in again to sing in a wedding scene so they get to perform twice in the show,” says Emms.

“This could be the first time they have performed in or even seen an opera.”

At every centre the production has been staged in audiences have loved seeing locals in the show.

“In Hamilton we had a chorus of 10 to 12 girls and in Wellington we phoned up singing friends and gave them the music.”

The pop-up chorus of rustics for Wanderlust Opera’s Gisborne performance is made up of about 12 young female singers, some of whom are tutored by musical director Gavin Maclean, and about a dozen seasoned singers from the Choral Society.

“You have to be flexible,” says Emms.

“That’s what we’re all about — being innovative and trying to escape from stereotypes associated with opera. There is still a stigma around opera in New Zealand — a view it is elitist, stuffy and too expensive.”

Emms has loved the challenge of presenting a production that is entertaining and accessible while ensuring it stays true to the spirit of one of the world’s most frequently performed operas.

“People come up to us after a performance and say ‘I finally understand the plot at last’.

“We’re having so much fun with it. It’s pretty difficult not to enjoy yourself. Mozart was a prankster with a great sense of humour. People say he would have appreciated this production.”

  • The Marriage of Figaro - one crazy day, War Memorial Theatre, March 31, 7.30pm.
  • Tickets can be bought from www.ticketdirect.co.nz or Stephen Jones Photography at 111 Gladstone Road.
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