Converse College Opera Theatre will celebrate the 250th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) with a production of “The Marriage of Figaro,” one of his most celebrated operas.
“The Marriage of Figaro” will open in Converse’s Twichell Auditorium on Mozart’s birthday, Jan. 27th, and continue through Jan. 29th. Curtain times are 8 p.m. for the Jan. 27th and 28th performances; 3 p.m. for the 29th. On opening night, Twichell Auditorium will be decked out for a full birthday party celebration, the cast will take to the stage just before the curtain rises to sing “Happy Birthday” with orchestra accompaniment, and cake will be served to the audience during intermission. The production includes a cast of 11, a 20-member chorus, the 28-member Converse Symphony Orchestra and a set, designed and constructed especially for this production.
General admission tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students and may be purchased by contacting the Twichell Box Office at (864) 596-9725.
“Mozart is among the most significant and popular composers of classical music and is widely regarded as one of our greatest composers,” said Dr. Ronald Boudreaux, associate professor of voice at Converse and director of the Converse Opera Theatre. “What better way to celebrate his 250th birthday than a production of one of his true classics?”
Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” is a stylish comedy based upon a controversial play of the same name by Pierre de Beaumarchais and is a sequel to “The Barber of Seville.” “‘The Marriage of Figaro’ created quite a stir in France when it was first written by Beaumarchais in 1784 because it depicted servants outsmarting their masters. The work foreshadows the French Revolution,” said Dr. Ronald Boudreaux. Although the play by Beaumarchais was at first banned in Vienna due to the mockery of the upper class, the opera became one of Mozart’s most successful works, and is now commonly regarded as a cornerstone of the standard operatic repertoire. The overture is especially famous and is often played as a concert piece.
“The Marriage of Figaro” consists of four acts and is set on a single day in Count Almaviva’s Seville castle in the late 18th century. The Count has become bored in his marriage, and in an active search for amorous adventures has set his sights on Susanna, the Countess’s head chambermaid. Susanna is also engaged to Figaro, who is the Count’s valet and caretaker of his castle. As the production unfolds, the Count makes more and more obvious advances towards Susanna, who in turn reveals everything to Figaro and the Countess. This forces the Count to face them after having been made to look ridiculous at a date, which was in fact a trap designed for just that outcome. Figaro and Susanna are united in matrimony, and the Count throws himself at his wife’s feet to beg her forgiveness. Adding to the comedy are an amorous teenager, a scheming old maid, a drunken gardener and a silly young girl.
Much of the dialogue in “The Marriage of Figaro” is conveyed through song and accompanied by harpsichord and orchestra, a practice known as recitative. “While it is an acquired taste, recitative is a powerful method used to tell a story,” said Dr. Boudreaux. “Audience members may ask, ‘Why are the actors singing rather than just talking?’ But music can be such an effective conveyor of emotions and has an effect in just about everything we do. When someone is in their car listening to music, they may not remember the song itself, but it has definitely had an effect on them emotionally in some way. Sin