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The Marriage of Figaro

Mozart's popular comic opera runs Feb. 25-28 at Cahn Auditorium

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January 29, 2010 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Four fully staged productions of Mozart's popular comic opera "The Marriage of Figaro," will be presented by the Northwestern University Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music. It is the second of three operas this season based on a trilogy of plays by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, the creator of the beloved character, Figaro.

Performances of "The Marriage of Figaro" will take place on the University's Evanston campus at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St.

"The Marriage of Figaro" picks up where Northwestern Opera Theater's fall 2009 production of Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" left off. In "Figaro," Count Almaviva has married but taken to philandering. Figaro is now his chief steward, and the Count is pursing Figaro's fiancee Susannah, the Countess' maid. Adding to the cast of madcap characters are Cherubino, a lovesick teenager; Marcellina, a desperate woman in love with Figaro; and the pompous Dr. Bartolo. All threaten to ruin Figaro and Susannah's wedding day.

Mozart's opera will be performed in Andrew Porter's acclaimed English translation of Lorenzo Da Ponte's libretto. A former music critic for The New Yorker, Porter is a London-based critic. Bienen School student vocalists will be accompanied by members of the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra.

Jay Lesenger, Bienen School professor and director of opera, will stage the production.

Ivan Torzs a highly regarded conductor and pianist, will conduct. Torzs has established himself as one of the most experienced opera conductors in Europe, including performances at Stuttgart, Hamburg and the Vienna State Opera. As an accomplished pianist, Torzs has accompanied sopranos Renata Scotto, Helen Donath and Cheryl Studer, in recital.

Erhard Rom, who has designed sets for more than 100 productions nationwide and has participated in the Prague Quadrennial, is the scenic designer. Greg Slawko, resident designer at the Drury Lane Theatre, Skylight Opera Theatre and Joffrey Ballet, is the costume designer.

Lighting designer Stephen Sorenson, who earned a master's degree in stage design from Northwestern, has designed stage lighting for theatre and opera productions in the Chicago area, including last year's Northwestern Opera Theater production of "The Merry Widow."

Single tickets for "Figaro" are $22 for the general public; $18 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $8 for students. For more information, call the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall office at (847) 491-5441. Tickets are available through the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall ticket office at (847) 467-4000 or online at www.pickstaiger.org.

The last opera in the trilogy featuring Figaro is John Corigliano's "The Ghosts of Versailles," suggested by the Beaumarchais play "The Guilty Mother." It will be performed May 21 and 23 at Cahn Auditorium. This production is part of a weeklong celebration of the works of Corigliano. The composer will be in attendance. Tickets are $8 to $18.