Hampstead Garden Opera (HGO) will stage a new production of Mozart’s much-loved opera buffa – comic opera – Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro, 1786) at the newly refurbished Jacksons Lane Theatre in Highgate, the north London-based company has announced.
This retelling of Mozart’s tale of love, fidelity and deception moves the action from Seville, Spain, to England on the verge of the First World War. The libretto is based on La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro (The Mad Day, or The Marriage of Figaro), a 1784 stage comedy by French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais. The story continues on from the events of Beaumarchais’s earlier play The Barber of Seville, in which the dashing Count Almaviva marries the beautiful Rosina, saving her from the clutches of her ward Dr Bartolo, with the help of Figaro.
In this updated version, Count Almaviva’s estate in the English countryside clings to its former glory, in denial that the First World War is on its doorstep. Rosina is now countess, while Dr Bartolo is seeking revenge against Figaro for thwarting his plans to marry Rosina himself. The count has degenerated from the romantic hero of Barber into a scheming, skirt-chasing bully.
Figaro, meanwhile, is now employed as a servant in the count’s household, as his head of staff; he is set to marry Susanna, the countess’s maid. But Almaviva is determined to exercise his droit du seigneur – his right to bed the servant girl on her wedding night. However, Figaro and Susanna succeed in getting married, foiling the efforts of their philandering employer and teaching him a lesson in fidelity.
This new production is directed by double Off West End Award Nominee Julia Mintzer and conducted by Jette Parker Young Artist alumnus and HGO’s Music Director Thomas Payne. The pair was also responsible for creating HGO’s highly acclaimed 2020 open-air production of Holst’s one-act chamber opera Sāvitri (1916), which was performed to socially distanced audiences in the gardens of Lauderdale House, Highgate Hill. Music is from the HGO Chamber Orchestra.
In keeping with HGO’s mission to “provide unique opportunities for young singers,” the cast shares many of the main roles in order to showcase as much new talent as possible. Baritones Louis Hurst and James Gribble take on the title role, with sopranos Shafali Jalota and Anna-Luise Wagner singing the part of Susanna. Baritones Thomas Chenhall and Peter Edge share the role of Count Almaviva, while sopranos Camilla Harris and Rusnė Tušlaitė play Countess Rosina.
The eight performances take place between 5 and 14 November. The opera will be sung in Italian with English surtitles. Tickets are on sale now direct from Jacksons Lane Theatre and cost from £28; there is a limited number of tickets for under 25s available at the special price of £16.
HGO Chair David Conway commented: “The romantic, the practical and the ridiculous meet in HGO’s boisterous retelling of Mozart and da Ponte’s iconic masterpiece Le nozze di Figaro. As always featuring some of the finest young opera talent, our casts once again lead the return of vibrant opera to north London. I look forward to seeing you at an exciting, hilarious and moving production of one of the greatest of all operas.”
Rusnė Tušlaitė sung the Countess’s iconic aria ‘Porgi amor’ (‘O Love, give me’) at HGO’s annual Summer Concert, A Wonderful Dream, in July 2021. This marks Rosina’s first appearance in the opera, at the opening of Act II, when, alone on stage, she laments the infidelity of her husband and the loss of love.
Hampstead Garden Opera will be performing a fully staged new production of Mozart’s much-loved comic opera The Marriage of Figaro at Jacksons Lane Theatre, Highgate, in November.