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March 26, 1997 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-03-26

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 26, 1997 --9

'Figaro' to deliver tale of scandal
School of Music's Opera Theater to perform Mozart's dramatic work

By thristopher Tkaczyk
Campus Arts Editor
Tales of lust and greed often produce
uisitive minds when supermarket
loids splash trashy and untruthful
stories across their pages. Daytime tele-
vision talk shows look for the freakish
side of human life
to draw large rat-
ings.
But the world of } The
opera is also
bespeckled with
gruesome tales of M
fidelity and scan-

edri
MAen

"Wait a minute! Opera?," you may
ask. Yes, opera. No, this is not your
father's opera, folks. This isn't a
show where a man stands on stage
singing for five hours just to discov-
er that the sun has risen. This isn't
Wagner. This is Mozart, the most
widely recorded classical composer
of all time.
"The Marriage of Figaro," Mozart's
st favorably received operatic work,
will be presented this week by the
School of Music's Opera Theater.
Besides Mozart's lush dramatic score
and brilliant libretto, the opera boasts
an intriguing and exciting plot as well.
A lowly servant, named Figaro, must
outwit his master Count Almaviva to

win the favor and hand of the gorgeous
Susanna, who serves as Countess
Almaviva's chambermaid.
This may seem like a simple story,
but it delves further into sexual scan-
dal. During the opera's setting (late
18th century), social custom relayed
certain standards
E E' V upon the trans-
gression between
Marriageof master and ser-
|"aro vant.
iesday-Sunday, 8 p.m. The Count, it
ndessohn Theater, $7 seems, is intent on
exercising the once
renounced but now secretly espoused
droit de seigneur, the ancient sexual
right granted to aristocrats over their
household maidens on their wedding
night.
But Almaviva's intentions are further
complicated when his wife discovers
his plan and conspires to teach him a
lesson about fidelity and trust.
The history of "Figaro" dates back
to May 1, 1786, when it was pre-
miered at the Imperial Court Theater
in Vienna.
At that performance, the production
received such overwhelming applause
and admiration that the final curtain
had to be delayed several hours. After
many encores, the show was finally
pulled to an end - after an estimated

eight hours of performance.
Following the show's run, the
Habsburg Emperor Joseph 11 issued an
order that no encores were to be
allowed following operas. The reason
for the Emperor's commands was not
entirely based on theater etiquette, but
also upon the themes that the opera pre-
sented to its audience.
At that time, the government would
not look favorably upon theater that
contained unwanted political enthusi-
asm, and it consequently tried to pre-
vent such uprisings by eliminating any
threatening contenders.
Josh Major, the director of the U-M
Opera Workshop Program and "The
Marriage of Figaro," said the opera is
inspiring because it "deals with large
themes that show how society can break
down as a result of the obsession of one
man."
At the time of the opera's pre-
miere, the American Revolution had
just ended, and the government was
trying to keep political uprisings
under control in France, where a rev-
olution would begin three years later.
The world was impressionable to the
idea of revolution, and this show was
furthering interest in that political
area.
"Each new cast that I prepare for
this show brings a new inner life to

the meaning (of the opera). This
show captures the spirit of the
singers, and I am really proud of each
them in their personal growth,"
Major said, when asked about this
specific cast.
Another featured addition to the
opera will be Martin Katz, who serves
as the production's conductor.
Leading the University
Philharmonia Orchestra, Katz is one
of America's premier accompanists,
having musically supported such
well- known artists as Cecilia Bartoli,
Kathleen Battle, Jose Carreras and
Fredrica von Stade.
In February, Katz appeared at
Carnegie Hall for a celebration of his
years as accompanist to the great opera
mezzo-soprano, Marilyn Horne. His
work has been recorded many times,
and his recordings can be found on the
RCA, CBS. BMG and Decca music
labels.
Whatever audiences may wish to see,
they will most likely be thrilled by the
story of lust and infidelity that fills this
classic Mozart opera.
Whether opera buffs or people who
have never had the joy of attending
one, all audiences can expect "The
Marriage of Figaro" to be a promising
evening of vibrant singing and social
scandal.

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