Glad I Crashed The Wedding: OperaSoc’s Marriage of Figaro

LUU Opera Society’s performance of The Marriage of Figaro is a vibrant source of laughter, lechery and love.

OperaSoc’s Marriage of Figaro is a refreshingly styled and hilariously adapted take on Mozart’s masterpiece. Cramming witty remarks and humorous subtleties alongside elegant portrayals of emotion, the performance achieves a perfect balance of the confounding and charming under Nick Porter’s direction. As the tale follows Figaro (Simon Pratt), a poor and hopeful theatre director, in his tumultuous engagement to Susanna (Grace Watkins) the pair and their fellow characters are faced with prospects of infidelity, blackmail and heartbreak as the lecherous Count (Peter Law) does anything he can to satisfy his own desires.

Set in 1955 in a cabaret theatre in Soho, the carryings-on of the opera’s world are brought a little bit closer to the audience in time and space which only succeed in bringing to life its characters and events in all their vibrancy.  The cast’s colourful costume of full skirts and sharp suits was as loud as the singing itself and paralleled the spirit of the performance and its setting to a tee. As references from the original opera were replaced by chiding quips at places such as London’s East End the concept of Figaro served its audience (that ranged from opera novices to aficionados) with relatability and a comforting humour.

It was the triumphant talent of the opera’s cast, however, that was the true source of this opera’s success. Ellie Beach’s Countess poised the tragedy of a woman scorned with a determined defiance that was reflected in both her acting and stunning voice; at times I found myself not listening the words she sang but instead captivated simply by her voice. Furthermore the scene shared between herself and Susanna flourished in both its clever execution and Watkins’ stellar performance alongside Beach’s brilliant mimicry. Law’s execution of the Count delivered a constant source of comic relief in his foolery yet managing to balance that with an outstanding vocal performance. But the performance that stood strongest was Meiling Daniell-Greenhalgh’s Cherubino – managing to be charming, comical and vocally stunning while providing a constant source of energy in every scene, regardless of its sombreness, she supplied the essence of what this opera was about.

John Lyon’s musical direction tied this performance together with meticulous musical accompaniment ensuring that OperaSoc’s performance was one of quality as well as hilarity. This performance is a must-see for anyone in Leeds this weekend as The Marriage of Figaro succeeds in all it attempts and offers any audience something to remember.

The Marriage Figaro runs until 3rd February in the Riley Smith Theatre at Leeds University Union.

Rose Crees

(Image courtesy of Amy Bloodworth/OperaSoc)