One of the most beloved operas in history, Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” seems, at first blush, the simple story of an unbreakable bond between a pair of soon-to-be newlyweds.
But wait… this is Mozart, so you can be sure there are deeper messages at play — including a critique of class struggle that shocked its first audiences 237 years ago, on the eve of the French Revolution, and still resonates today.
“The Marriage of Figaro” — which continues the plot of “The Barber of Seville” — twists and turns around the efforts of two servants, Susanna and Figaro, to wed. But first, they must foil the nefarious plans of their bullying and lascivious employer, Count Almaviva, to spoil their plans in a most unwholesome and non-consensual way.
Joined by Countess Rosina, who is also repelled by her husband’s scheme, the humble working-class heroes prevail, dealing a blow to the aristocracy.
Beyond the story, of course, there is the music, of which Johannes Brahms said, “Every number in Mozart’s “Figaro” is a miracle to me. I find it absolutely incomprehensible how someone can create something so absolutely perfect.”
Vashon Opera’s production of the opera, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17, at Vashon Center for the Arts, will bring a constellation of regional, national and local stars to the timeless opera.
The role of Susanna will be sung by soprano Allison Pohl, who has appeared with opera companies and orchestras throughout three continents.
In the U.S., she has sung with companies including Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Virginia Opera, Tacoma Opera, Vashon Opera, Seattle Symphony, Canton Symphony, Symphony Tacoma, Seattle Philharmonic and Garden State Philharmonic, and has been a soloist for orchestral tours in both Italy and China.
Of her performance in “L’elisir d’amore” at Virginia Opera, The Washington Post wrote that she “stood out with a ripe, flavorful soprano and ample character.”
Lyric bass Michael Colman, tapped to sing the role of Figaro, has been hailed by Opera News for “fielding a fine, dark bass-baritone”, and has performed leading and supporting roles with many premier opera companies across the United States.
In the 2022-23 season alone, Colman has sung Dottore Grenvil in “La traviata,” with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Judge Turpin in “Sweeney Todd,” with Chautauqua Opera, Angelotti in “Tosca,” with St. Petersburg Opera, and made role and company debuts as Sparafucile in “Rigoletto,” with Vashon Opera, and the King of Egypt, in “Aida,” with Tulsa Opera.
Vashon Opera’s founder, soprano Jennifer Krikawa, will sing the role of the Countess. Her resume is well-known to islanders: she has sung for opera companies including New York City Opera, Virginia Opera, Connecticut Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera North, Augusta Opera, Annapolis Opera, Central City Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Israel Vocal Arts Institute, and has wowed islanders in leading roles in Vashon Opera productions including “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Così fan tutte,” “La bohème,” Madama Butterfly,” to name but a few.
The voice of baritone Anton Belov, who will play the Count, has been called “rich and mellifluous” by the New York Times.
A graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center, he has appeared with numerous companies and orchestras throughout the United States and has earned critical acclaim for his portrayals of characters as diverse as Count di Luna, Don Giovanni, Escamillo, Count Almaviva, Doctor Malatesta, and Eugene Onegin.
Vashon audiences are familiar with his performances as Germont (“La traviata”), in 2019, and Don Giovanni in 2014.
Belov, Krikawa and Colman and Pohl will be joined in Mozart’s tale of matrimony and madness by other highly accomplished singers: Holly Boaz (Marcellina) Grace Skinner (Cherubino), Alexander Adams (Doctor Bartolo), Robert McPherson (Don Basilo), Max Lopuszynski (Don Curzio), Sophia Emanuel (Barbarina) and David Hoffman (Antonio).
The opera will be conducted and directed by James Brown, who has maestroed numerous productions for Vashon Opera.
Get tickets for “The Marriage of Figaro,” as well as Vashon Opera’s 2024 spring production, “Romeo and Juliet,” at vashonopera.org.