‘Marriage of Figaro’ is a dull affair

Grand opera returned to Baltimore last fall, with the Lyric Opera’s first production of a new season. The formula for that production was revisited in the company’s latest staging in the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric, Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” seen Sunday afternoon. By cutting a few corners and keeping the production decidedly traditional, this was not so much the “crazy day” of the play’s subtitle but a rather ordinary day.

There was confident singing at the top of the cast, including the full-bodied, slightly edgy Countess of Caitlyn Lynch and an athletic, witty but rhythmically uneven Figaro from Daniel Mobbs. Soprano Janinah Burnett’s Susanna was visually and dramatically pleasing but marred by less than felicitous intonation, while baritone Marian Pop looked the part of the Count but was often overwhelmed by the orchestra or other singers. Those further down the cast list distinguished themselves more by stage presence or comic timing than singing.

The greatest blame for the evening’s musical doldrums falls on conductor Joseph Rescigno, who mostly followed the whims of the singers, most of whom did not seem to even watch him. Tempi fluctuated significantly, and some of the finale ensembles, which should have sparkled, dragged.

The staging was a bit of a hodgepodge, with sets borrowed from the Opera de Montreal (designed by Allen Charles Klein) — a little heavy-handed on the revolutionary imagery, a guillotine-capped column on one side and excerpts of the “Declaration of the Rights of Man” as a backdrop — and costumes supplied from a company in Toronto. The upside was that director Bernard Uzan could focus on creating natural movements and blocking for the action, with thoughtful lighting designed by Donald Edmund Thomas.

Downey is a freelance writer.

Conductor Joseph Rescigno. (Richard Brodzeller)

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