Opera Philadelphia’s production of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro is at the Academy of Music and runs through May 7. The story takes place on a single day: Figaro, the Count’s servant, loves Suzanna. Suzanna, the Countess’s servant, loves Figaro. The Count is a letch and wants to exercise his Droit du seigneur — “his right to bed a servant girl on her wedding night! The Countess is not happy with his plan nor is Suzanna or Figaro! With the help of Cherubino, the pageboy who is smitten by every woman, the Countess and the lovers plan a trap to expose the Count.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t quite go as expected, and the ridiculousness that is pure Mozart spins out with hysterical results.
Brandon Cedel (Hersey, PA) is Figaro. He is tall, handsome and has a deep, rich bass-baritone voice as sweet as the chocolate his hometown is famous for. Brandon captures Figaro’s easy-going view of the world perfectly with his comedic expressions and sometimes not to subtle glances at the audience.
Ying Fang (China) plays Suzanna in her Opera Philadelphia debut. She is charming, funny and sings with striking ease and candor. Ms. Fang is a principle soprano at the Metropolitan Opera and holds a Master’s degree and an Artist Diploma in Opera Study from The Juilliard School.
John Chest (Berlin, Germany) is Count Almavia. He slips on the Count’s red shoes effortlessly and takes the audience on a journey filled with loathing and laughter. His opulent baritone voice is truly magnificent and his handsome face seals the deal! It’s easy to see why he made the Barihunks — The Sexiest Baritone Hunks from Opera’s website.
Layla Claire (BC, Canada) is the Countess Almavia. Ms. Claire’s soprano is as luxurious as her red locks. She portrays the Countesses conflicting positions with striking clarity. She wants him to be embarrassed by his antics but also to feel his love for her. Your heart aches for her but also wishes she would just kick the Count in his you-know-whats!
The stand out performance for this reviewer was Cecelia Hall’s (Duram, NC) portrayal of Cherubino! Cherubino is a young page that is full of hormones, desire, and surrounded by beautiful women that love him for his charm and endearing way of being.
For those who may not know, roles such as these are affectionately referred to as trouser or pants roles and were originally written for the castrati voice but are now sung by mezzo-soprano’s playing young men. Ms. Hall was delightful in this role. Her reactions to the predicaments of Cherubino gives the character even more charm and her warm natural voice bares Cherubino’s real and just wish to find true love.
The anticipation of seeing an Opera Philadelphia production has become palatable to me over the years. I know I’m about to be transformed to another time, another place. I know that the performances will be world-class and the costuming and set design transformative. I know seeing an Opera Philadelphia performance can and will change something deep within you. Treat yourself to a treat… experience the Marriage of Figaro.