UMD Music department, Symphony Orchestra present opera ‘The Marriage of Figaro’
“The Marriage of Figaro” is an opera production put on by the UMD Music department and the UMD Symphony orchestra. The production is an opera set to a French play by Pierre Beaumarchais, with music composed by Mozart.
The story takes place in the late 17th century and follows a servant named Figaro as he comes closer to his marriage. The marriage does not come easy as he and his fiancé become entangled in troubles with their own relationship and deal with what their marriage means for everyone else.
Director Alice Pierce describes it as a story of “fidelity, infidelity, jealousy, forgiveness [and] a bit of social comedy.” The production can be educational yet an out-of-world experience for students.
“This particular opera can give you a glimpse into another world of a different era,” Pierce said. “Surprisingly, the themes of Beaumarchais and Italian librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte are easily prevalent today.”
Pierce had to deal with coordinating the actors movements on stage with the music by the Symphony Orchestra.
“We have to coordinate all this with an orchestra, and since our production is in Weber Music Hall, the orchestra will be behind us,” Pierce said.
In order for the opera to play out well, music conductor Ben Niles has to coordinate his musical directions with the singers on stage.
Weber Music Hall presents a unique problem to get over.
“The singers and Nilles have to coordinate singing together by looking into stage monitors and by listening with a keen ear,” Pierce said. “It has worked well in the past, so I am confident that we can do that again.”
The songs are not sung in English, but in Italian. The cast had to get over this obstacle in the beginning weeks of production. Tanner Barsness, who plays the role of Figaro, had the task of memorizing the lines in Italian.
“Memorization was very hard since this is a major work and we only had a semester to do this with other projects, classes, and most of us have jobs as well,” Barsness said.
Despite memorization, Barsness found some aspects of singing in Italian not too difficult.
“It is not that challenging as long as you’re connected with the words and can put yourself into other people’s shoes,” Barsness said. “At least it’s not French.”
Molly McDonald, who plays Susanna the countesses’ maid, found singing in Italian brought some authenticity to the production.
“It's Mozart so everything is written so perfectly,” McDonald said. “When you’re singing something [with his music], a lot of his themes match the goofiness of the scene or the drama.”
With lyrics being in Italian, Barsness said that the audience should not worry they won't be able to comprehend the story.
“We will have translations in English projected as the singers sing in Italian,” Barsness said. “We also have short dialogues in between in English and between the musical numbers.”
Megan Taves plays the role of countess Almaviva on the Friday showing.
“It was originally written in Italian, so it's authentic to the music,” Taves said. “It’s such a wonderful language to sing in because it's five pure vowels, you’re using such a legato, beautiful language.”
The cast’s costumes were rented from an outside supplier to get a more authentic look.
“It’s gonna be a really good show,” Taves said. “Everyone has put in a lot of work into it.”
The Marriage of Figaro will show Friday, April 27, 2018 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, April 29, 2018 at 3:00 pm in Weber Music Hall. Tickets can be found here.