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WGO Premieres Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro
As the opera begins Figaro and Susanna, two of the Count’s servants, are preparing for their wedding later that afternoon. When Susanna reveals that the Count has been trying to seduce her, Figaro plots revenge against his master. Of course, things get out of hand and soon people are hiding in closets, wearing disguises, and jumping out of windows. Eventually the Count is caught red-handed attempting to seduce his own wife!
However, Figaro isn’t just simple slapstick fluff. Mozart’s genius shines through when he digs through the layers of comedy to show how hurt the Countess is by her husband’s antics. It’s a moment that makes the characters real and, in the hands of a great stage director, it’s a moment that makes the opera truly transcendent.
Stanley M. Garner, one of the country’s most-respected stage directors, brings a wealth of experience to WGO’s new production. Garner began his career serving as Associate Director to legendary directors Franco Zeffirelli and Stephen Wadsworth. In addition to six years as a staff director at Los Angeles Opera, he has directed productions at San Francisco Opera, Vancouver Opera, Houston Grand Opera, l’Opera de Montreal, Washington National Opera, and Santa Fe Opera, among others.
So, what separates a great director from a good director? In an interview with the Tulsa World, Mr. Garner offered some insights. “I’m in the minority among my colleagues, because I believe the most important thing is the music in an opera,” he commented.
WGO’s Founder and Artistic Director Margaret Ann Pent has created the concept and set designs for this production. Since WGO’s inception in 2000, Ms. Pent has directed and designed WGO’s productions of Tosca, Carmen, Faust, and I Pagliacci, among others. The sets are created in-house by renowned European scenic artist Stefan Pavlov, and the costumes are provided by Malabar, Inc. in Canada, North America’s most prestigious theatrical costume company.
The production will be conducted by Grammy-award-winning and Oscar-nominated conductor and composer Steven Mercurio, best-known for his television appearances with Andrea Bocelli, London’s Royal Philharmonic, Sting, the Three Tenors, and Il Volo. Maestro Mercurio is an internationally sought-after composer and collaborator for many award-winning recordings, arrangements and film projects. For the stage, Maestro Mercurio has conducted more than forty-five different operas in seven different languages at nearly every major international opera house.
Wichita Grand Opera’s all-star cast is led by Patrick Carfizzi, a “comic genius” with over 275 performances at The Met to his credit, sings the title role of Figaro. Already in the middle of a whirlwind 2012-13 season, Mr. Carfizzi comes to Wichita hot on the heels of starring roles at Opera Cologne (Germany), Houston Grand Opera, and Seattle Opera.
Starring as his blushing bride-to-be Susanna is Grammy-nominated soprano Ava Pine, and by all accounts, she is set to become opera’s Next Big Thing. Her reviews tell the story: DFW.com claims that she has “one of the best voices… of the last 10 years.”
International Opera Diva Zvetelina Vassileva, star of the Met, Covent Garden, Vienna, San Francisco, and dozens of other major houses, returns to the WGO as Countess Almaviva following her breathtaking performance as Desdemona in Otello, a role she will portray in Beijing following her performance of Figaro in Wichita. This will also be her third time sharing the stage with WGO Singer of the Year Michael Nansel. Mr. Nansel has shown the Wichita audience that he is an absolute chameleon on stage, playing parts ranging from ladies’ man Count Danilo in The Merry Widow to the incomparably evil Iago in Otello, to this production’s Count Almaviva.
As a special treat, after major appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, Wichita native Brian Frutiger comes home for his professional Kansas debut – following in the footsteps of Sam Ramey (Tosca) and Joyce DiDonato (Barber of Seville) – as the gossiping music teacher Basilio. The rest of the cast includes Kaitlyn Costello as Cherubino, Charles Turley as Bartolo, Erin Mundus as Marcellina, Steve Kimball as Antonio, Alyssa Nance as Barbarina, and Kenneth Clymer as Don Curzio.
Wichita Grand Opera will continue to partner with restaurants and country clubs around the region for its successful Night at the Opera dinner in connection with this performance. This deluxe $100 package per guest includes a sumptuous dinner before the performance, a premium ticket to the opera, and transportation to and from Century II. For information about the Night at the Opera package, contact the Wichita Grand Opera Offices at (316) 262-8054.
Figaro is also the second installment in Wichita Grand Opera’s new Day at the Opera program for local students. Over 300 students attended WGO’s season-opening production of Otello with this new initiative. For more information, contact WGO’s Box Office at (316) 262-8054.
The curtain goes up on March 16th at 7pm, in the Century II Concert Hall. Tickets are still available, ranging in price from $35 to $85, with discounts available. To purchase tickets, call the Wichita Grand Opera Box Office at (316) 262-8054, or online at SelectASeat.com.
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