Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Marriage of Figaro (Movie Glutton Opera Edition)

Kelly, Elliot, and I attended the Sunday matinee of the Fort Worth Opera's presentation of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.  This is one of those classic operas that define opera.  It might also serve as a litmus test to determine, Are you an opera lover or not?

Just as I have come to expect, the FW Opera put on a fantastic performance.  The lavish sets and world-class singers, accompanied by the terrific Fort Worth Symphony, came together for a performance that surely would match any put on anywhere in the world.  The singers in the lead roles had a flawless performance, as did the supporting cast.  If I had to come up with one criticism, it would be some of the slapstick staging; it is a comedy, but sometimes the silliness seemed a bit over the top.

The count doesn't recognize his wife because she . . . changed coats?
Which brings me to my next point.  I am not a musician (okay, I sang in the choir and play a little guitar), so I am really in no place to criticize the music.  It all sounds great to me.  But I do read a lot of fiction and watch a lot of movies.  Again, my tastes may not be the most refined, but I feel like I can judge a good story.  I have to say that the story of Figaro is stupid.  It's a sit-com, and not a very good one.  The misunderstandings, jealous lovers, then the whole let's-switch-clothes-and-meet-our-lovers-under-cover-of-night deal, it all adds up to a movie that would not be made or a novel that would not be published.  At least if I was the editor.

And I was surprised at the audience, refined opera lovers, guffawing at the most inane semi-comedic moments.  Sure, it's mildly funny at times, but these people are laughing like it's the funniest thing they've ever seen.  Maybe it is.  The music is great, for the era in which it was composed, and some of the arias are very beautiful.  But taken as a whole--musical theater that tells a story--I just don't get why this thing has endured for over 200 years and ranks as one of the most-performed operas.

I did enjoy it, even though it is pretty long and I was feeling sleepy, not having had time after church for my Sunday afternoon nap.  Did I love it?  Am I an opera lover?  Maybe not.

Once again, I probably sound like an idiot trying to talk about opera.  Here's the Star-Telegram review, from someone who actually knows what he's talking about!

1 comment:

Mark Caplan said...

You can love opera and be indifferent toward THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO. I love opera but can't find much to like in large swaths of the standard repertoire, including most of Wagner and Mozart (DON GIOVANNI the one exception).

There's a fine movie version (not a filmed stage production) of EUGENE ONEGIN available on NetFlix. If you try to find it, it's dated 1958. The director was Roman Tikhomirov. I'm also fond of the 1979 movie version of DON GIOVANNI, directed by Joseph Losey.