Review: The Marriage of Figaro, Cork Opera House

Cathy Desmond enjoyed The Marriage of Figaro, the first of this year's Concert Series at Cork Opera House

Review: The Marriage of Figaro, Cork Opera House

Cathy Desmond enjoyed The Marriage of Figaro, the first of this year's Concert Series at Cork Opera House


Cork Opera House opened its third Concert Series with a presentation of one of the most popular works of all time.

Trimmed of sets and costumes with the orchestra released from the pit to add to the on-stage energy, the focus inevitably intensifies on the essential musical elements.

Whether it comes off depends on how effectively the singers can convey enough of the dramatic intent of their characters within the limitations of the format.

While the central theme of class division in this work is muted with every cast member clad in ball gowns and tails, there was enough of a sense of the drama in the convoluted plot to satisfy and plenty of vocal thrills to delight the near-capacity Leeside auditorium on Sunday night.

Among the impressive line-up of a dozen principals, there was a good blend of seasoned pros and emerging artists.

Among the main roles, Rachel Croash did well in her debut as a coquettish Susannah. Ben McAteer impressed as a powerful Figaro with a commanding stage presence.

Swedish countertenor Viktor Priebe stole the show with his thrilling plangent delivery as Cherubino.

His duet with Sinéad Campbell-Wallace as Countess was my highlight of the evening.

English soprano Louise Innes squeezed much comic nuance out of the minor role of Marcellina. Kelley Petcu was a serene Barberina.

The Cork Operatic Society chorus added a vocal pop of colour in three choruses.

The recitative was replaced with a chatty narrative by Conor Hanratty delivered with aplomb by the Lyric FM stalwart Evelyn Grant and a mishap with erratic surtitles didn’t impinge much on the pleasure.

Conducted by John O Brien, the Cork Opera House Concert Orchestra played with rhythmic energy and sprightly articulation throughout never overwhelming the voices.

The Cork Opera House Concert Series is keeping a consistent offering of affordable opera on the programme at a house that has a long and proud tradition in the genre.

Coming up later in the season are presentations of Pirates of Penzance and Tosca.

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