OperaUpClose's final new production at the King's Head is this terrifically fun version of Mozart's complex farce.
OperaUpClose has come a long way over five years and 21 productions. Set to leave its Islington base the King’s Head in January, the company presents its last new production there, and what terrific fun it is.
‘The Marriage of Figaro’ is Mozart’s complex farce based on a play by Pierre Beaumarchais. It follows the shenanigans of a single wedding day – Figaro and Susanna, a pair of servants getting hitched, a randy count demanding his feudal rights from the bride, an old spinster with a writ that claims her right to marry Figaro, and a countess lamenting her unfaithful husband.
You might not think that all the hiding in closets and jumping out of windows could be achieved on the intimate King’s Head stage, but with some imagination, director Sarah Tipple manages it through the use of foley sound effects and a single picture frame.
There are no weak links in this cast (one of two), which has been gifted a sympathetic translation of the Italian by Robin Norton-Hale. Richard Immergluck plays a low-key Figaro, more confused than knowing, with Sarah Minns as a petulant but sweetly sung Susanna.
Tom Stoddart is hilarious as the deranged Count, confounded at every turn; and how could he be so cruel to his Countess, when sung and acted so beautifully by the excellent Louisa Tee?
It is not often that an accompanist steals the show, but pianist Alex Beetschen not only plays through his own reduction of the score with great commitment and feeling, he directs clarinettist Fiona Mitchell and violist Joe Bronstein to perform with equal enthusiasm – and he even plays the role of the judge, singing from the keyboard.