The Marriage of Figaro ​at Waterperry Opera Festival

     If you were anywhere else but at Waterperry last night watching this exuberant production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, you missed something special.

     The cast is outstanding, the musicians gave a superb rendering of the score and the production gained from its setting, particularly in Act IV which is supposed to take place in the gardens of the Count's palace after dark... Imaginative use of Waterperry House itself, with lighting, silhouettes and characters appearing on the balcony and at upper windows, added to the enjoyment.

     As Figaro and Susanna, the young bass Adam Maxey made a good pair with prize-winning soprano Jessica Cale. His tall figure confronting the philandering Count in silhouette in Act IV was as dramatic as his voice.

     Alison Langer won spontaneous applause for her performance as Countess Rosina, whose mournful aria musing on her disappointment in her husband gains so much poignancy by being set in the middle of the preparations for the wedding of Figaro to Susanna.  The aria was eloquently and exquisitely phrased.

     As Marcellina, Katherine Crompton (yesterday's Wagner soprano) showed us that she is versatile and can sing comic roles too, while as Curzio, Lawrence Thackeray (tenor) who sang Mr Rushworth in Mansfield Park, displayed more of his comic talents.

    The Marriage of Figaro never suffers much from updating, and the one thing wrong with this production was that it made Cherubino (Annie Reilly), the page, into a girl. This missed the point entirely. Cherubino is a trouser-role, sung by a female soprano to create some ambiguity about his sex. He is meant to be aged about 14 or 15, on the cusp of manhood, so that he can pass for a girl in female dress, but is he really a thrusting young man? Making him into a girl and referring to him as such arrives at nonsense, when the Countess and Susanna say, "I dressed her up in girl's clothes and she passed perfectly." Well, if she's girl, that's not surprising, and the Count would not be bothered to find her in his wife's bedroom. Nor would he give her a commission in the army to get rid of her - this was a traditional way of getting rid of pages when they reached manhood.

     The opera has its own inbuilt gender-bending narrative, and to try to bend it again it is not an improvement.

     Waterperry Opera Festival is a great asset to Oxfordshire, and with its wonderful setting and high calibre of singers, deserves all the support it can get to continue to flourish in future years. 

                                                                                         Julia Gasper.

The Marriage of Figaro

Cast COUNT Jerome Knox Picture COUNTESS Alison Langer SUSANNA Jessica Cale FIGARO Adam Maxey✢ CHERUBINO Annie Reilly MARCELLINA Katherine Crompton Picture BARTOLO Edmund Danon Picture BASILIO / CURZIO Lawrence Thackeray Picture BARBARINA Eleanor Sanderson-Nash

Conductor Bertie Baigent 

Director Isabelle Kettle Lighting Designer Sean Gleason  Movement Director Alex Gotch Set & Costume Designer Charlotte Henery

The Marriage of Figaro 12th, 13th, 16th, 18th and 20th August / 6.30pm Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte | Orchestral Arrangement by Leo Geyer Performed in an English Translation

Location: Waterperry Front Lawn Duration: 6:30pm (start time) / 1 hour extended picnic intermission Festival Music Director Bertie Baigent (Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, The Elixir of Love) will conduct five performances of Mozart’s timeless comedy THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO on the front lawn of Waterperry House. Directed by Isabelle Kettle and designed by Charlotte Henery, this bold new production invites audiences into the hustle and bustle of preparations for the wedding of Susanna and Figaro. Throughout the course of the evening, audiences gain a revealing insight into the true nature of the relationship between upstairs and downstairs. This production showcases some of the UK’s most outstanding emerging operatic talent, alongside our 2022 Young Artists and the acclaimed Waterperry orchestra. As a prequel to The Marriage of Figaro, Jonathan Dove’s FIGURES IN THE GARDEN will be performed in the gardens at 5pm on the 12th and 13th August. Drawing on musical ideas from Mozart’s operatic score, Dove explores alternative scenarios for Da Ponte’s characters. This production sees a collaboration between dance students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and young local musicians from Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra.FIGURES IN THE GARDEN
Tickets Full Prices Red Area / £60 Blue Area / £45 Concessions Blue Light Card Holders, and Benefits Support (NHS, DLA, UC, JSA) / £30* Under 30 / £25 Under 16 / £15