LSM Newswire

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Opera Lyra Ottawa presents Le Nozze di Figaro

Opera Lyra Ottawa presents Le Nozze di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Opera Lyra Ottawa (OLO) presents Mozart's very popular and witty opera, Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), September 13, 15, 17 and 20 to launch the company's 24th season. OLO last presented Le Nozze di Figaro in 1995. From the first notes of the famous overture through to the very end, this opera is full of beautiful music with one breathtaking aria after another. The witty plot is masterfully combined with memorable music to create a satirical commentary on the class structure of European society in the late 18th century.

A stellar cast of Canadian and international artists come together for OLO's production of this comic masterpiece. Canadian baritone James Westman, internationally acclaimed for his "big, rich-grained" voice and "superb style," will make his OLO debut in the role of Count Almaviva. Mezzo-soprano Mariateresa Magisano, who was well-loved in OLO's The Barber of Seville, returns as the Count's wife, Susanna. Baritone Robert Gierlach will perform Figaro for which Opera Magazine says he brings "heaps of personality ¨÷ as well as vocal finesse," to the role.

Montreal-born bass, Gregory Atkinson, will bring his "round, juicy, and resonant" voice to the role of the vexing Dr. Bartolo. American mezzo-soprano, Adriana Zabala, recently praised by the New York Times as having "a vivid, fearless presence," will perform the role of Cherubino. Canadian tenor Peter Blanchet, who has gained a reputation as one of the most gifted and multi-faceted character tenors in the operatic world, returns to Ottawa in the roles of Basilio and Don Curzio. French-Canadian mezzo-soprano Geneviąģve Desprą©s will sing the role of Marcellina, a role for which Opera Canada has praised her "strong, rounded mezzo with appealingly substantial proportions." First-place winner of the 2008 Houston Grand Opera Competition, soprano Caitlyn Lynch makes her company debut in the role of the Countess. Montreal baritone Marc-Antoine D'Aragon, a member of last year's OLO Opera Studio who won the 2008 OLO Opera Studio Competition, will return for the role of Antonio. OLO Opera studio member, soprano Christina Tannous, will perform the role of Barbarina.

Glynis Leyshon, director of OLO's highly praised Falstaff, returns as the Stage Director, bringing her "fluid" and "witty" flair to the production. The National Arts Centre Orchestra and the OLO Chorus will be led by Austrian conductor Christoph Campestrini who demonstrates "feeling for structure," and "careful attention to details and nuances." Once again, a matinee performance will be presented for the benefit of over 2000 students as part of Opera Lyra Ottawa's education programming. The third annual Young People's Opera Matinee of Le Nozze di Figaro will take place on September 19.

Sung in Italian with English and French Surtitles, performances of Le Nozze di Figaro will begin at

8:00 pm. Pre-opera chats are presented free of charge to all patrons one-hour prior to each performance in the lobby. These offer an opportunity to learn more about the composer, context and historical significance of the opera.

The Story

The alternate name for the Le Nozze di Figaro is "A Crazy Day" an apt description of the convoluted, twisting plot that follows the events of a single day in the chateau of Count Almaviva in 18th century Spain. It is the wedding day Susanna, the Countess' maid, and Figaro, who has given up his barbering and is now valet to the Count Almaviva. A host of hilariously complicated situations arise throughout the day as the Count, an unfaithful yet ironically jealous husband, makes advances on the bride-to-be; the young page Cherubino, amorous of every woman, is constantly getting into trouble; and the scheming Dr. Bartolo reminds Figaro of a debt owed to the spinster Marcellina whom he had rashly promised to marry if the debt was not repaid. It is soon revealed however that Figaro, who was stolen as an infant by thieves, is in fact the long lost son of Marcellina and Bartolo, and they enjoy a happy reunion. The Countess and Susanna seek to expose the count's infidelity and lay plans to catch him in the act and so a series of passed notes, humorous misunderstandings, disguises and misguided schemes add to the chaos of the day. At last the count is exposed for his philandering ways and is forced to admit to his jealous behaviours and indiscretions. He begs for his wife's forgiveness, which he ultimately receives and the opera wraps up as the household rejoices.


Le Nozze di Figaro or The Marriage of Figaro is based on the second play in the Figaro trilogy by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais. It is a good example of a successful literary sequel, following up on the success of his first play, The Barber of Seville. The opera marks the first collaboration between Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, perhaps one of the most outstanding teams of composers and writers in the world of opera. At the time the opera was written, three years prior to the French revolution, the play was considered to be very contentious, and indeed had initially been banned for its political edge. Both the opera and play explore the relationship between the classes, challenging the presumptions of society as the servants turn the tables on their aristocratic masters. The play was described at the time as "possibly the most spirited piece ever written," and "immoral, positively indecent." The decision to use Beaumarchais' play as an opera was apparently Mozart's, and it was only due to the connections and persuasive abilities of his new collaborator, Da Ponte, that permission was granted by the Emperor for the opera to be based on this work. The opera premiered on May 1, 1786 and was so well liked the encores forced it to run twice its normal running time. It has since become a perennial favourite amongst opera fans, remaining one of the most popular in opera houses throughout the world.

Ticket Information:

Single tickets, from $39 to $165, are available from the NAC box office and all Ticketmaster locations (service fees will be applied). Visit Ticketmaster online or call 613-755-1111. Subscriptions for the OLO Season are still available. Call 613-233-9200 ext 221. DISCOUNTS: For groups of 10 or more please call Opera Lyra Ottawa at 613-233-9200 and ask about our group rates. Students with a valid Live Rush¨Ű membership card may buy up to 2 tickets per performance at a discounted price. Tickets may be purchased online or in person at the NAC Box Office on the day of the performance between 2 and 6 pm. More information is available at

About Opera Lyra Ottawa

Opera Lyra Ottawa is a not-for-profit organization with the mandate to produce and present opera in the National Capital Region of the highest quality and to promote opera as an art form, making it accessible to as large a segment of the population as possible through community outreach and education. Wherever possible, Opera Lyra Ottawa is committed to encourage, nurture and support Canadian artists. For more information please visit

Opera Lyra Ottawa gratefully acknowledges the generous support of our sponsors who make the 2008-2009 season possible. We thank Bell, Season Sponsor, as well as our other Principal Sponsors: Bel-Air Lexus, Rio Tinto Alcan, Sun Life Financial, and Ottawa Citizen; Major Sponsors: Arosa Suites Hotel, Custom Printers, and Handa Travel. Opera Lyra would also like to thank the following agencies for their support: the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the City of Ottawa.

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