Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro is one of the world's most beloved and frequently performed operas. Surely, Opera Memphis' General Director Ned Canty will have some singular concept or wacky spin to set it apart from all the other Barbers of Seville.
"For a Ned Canty opera, it's relatively un-wacky," Tierney Bamrick says. As Bamrick, Opera Memphis' marketing director, further explains, Mozart's operas are sumptuous enough on their own and filled with lots of goofy Abbott and Costello-style slapstick. "We just decided to lean into that." Of course, there's a concept. There always is. But this time around, it's less about the opera and more about the place it's being performed.
"We pulled together an orchestra and cast that reflects the level of diversity in Memphis," Bamrick says.
"The idea came out of our production of The Magic Flute from last year. We had a really diverse cast, and Lecolion Washington [of the Prizm Chamber Ensemble] commented on that. We were like, 'Oh,' because we hadn't thought of it that way. Classical music has a bad rap for being homogenous, and here we were doing this thing. So we said, 'Let's make it a thing for Figaro.'"
The late 18th-century setting is also a gift to Opera Memphis costume designer Sona Amroyan-Peric, whose background is really fashion design, not costuming. It's a chance to go full-on decadent with velvet, lace, brocade, and fancy buttons.
The story is classic fluff about a pair of servants who thwart their master's wishes and get married. There's lots of people falling out of windows and hiding in closets. But there's more to Mozart's madcap romp than meets the eye, and the music — from the famous overture to the last fading notes — is pure joy.