CAMBRIDGE — Hubbard Hall Opera Theatre’s production of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” is a hit. Artistic director Alix Jones has once again gathered an ensemble of singers, who nail every aria and act with a convincing naturalness.
What was especially impressive is that big dollars and big names would not have made this show any better than what the capacity crowd heard and saw at Wednesday night’s final dress rehearsal. Once the first notes of the music were heard, it didn’t matter that the orchestra was behind some judicially placed curtains behind a minimal set or that the “stage” was a hall and the audience was on risers.
The singers were blithe spirits romping through a fast-paced lark of a show in two acts. It helped that Lorenzo da Ponte’s marvelous Italian lyrics had been translated into spiffy English supertitles. Only a gentle updating was done to put the opera in the early 20th century at an English country manor. Think Downton Abbey for the costumes.
After a briskly buoyant overture from the 16-piece local pick-up orchestra led by conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya, Luke Scott as Figaro and Marielle Murphy as Susanna appeared. Their arias, chemistry and comic sense were artful. His voice is a big rolling baritone and her soprano was an agile coloratura.
As the action progressed with expert pacing from director Patrick Hansen, the other characters showed off their great voices. They included mezzo-soprano Jamie Korkos in the pant’s role as the impish chauffeur Cherubino; baritone Paul An as a cavorting Dr. Bartolo; soprano Sarah Nordin as Marcellina in a gorgeous purple with black lace creation; and tenor Blake Friedman as the effete music master Don Basilio. Soprano Jaely Chamberlain also did well as Barbarina.
As the Countess Rosina, dramatic soprano Kristin Schwecke belted out her arias to almost overwhelm the space. And baritone Geoffrey Penar as the Count was wonderfully arrogant and wore an almost constant sneer. He worked up a great stage rage and did vengeance very well even as he sang with lovely aplomb.
Mozart didn’t write easy vocal lines and often had the singers working from duos to sextets. But everyone did well, as if they’d been working together for years rather than weeks. The orchestra, too, sounded skilled and to Yankovskaya’s credit there were no lag times between arias, recitatives or spots in the action.
Best of all, the mood for the show was high comedy and the audience giggled, guffawed and enjoyed themselves to give the players a standing ovation. The show continues at 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, next Thursday and at 2 p.m. next Friday and Saturday.
Opera lovers might also check out HHOT’s other production, Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi,” which runs 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 8 p.m. next Friday.