The Marriage of FigaroKeller Auditorium
222 S.W. Clay< br>503-248-4335
Through Oct. 4
With high school in the distant past, there are few opportunities in life that warrant putting on a ball gown or tuxedo, paying to have your hair styled and actually enjoying the company and environment around you. The opera provides just such an occasion. It is a place where music and emotion collide, and where you get the chance to escape the drone of everyday life to enter the magical reality of the stage.
The only way to reach this fantasy land is through the ethereal sound of each character퀌_s voice. Yeah, I know, it퀌_s opera. The mention of it usually sends waves of apprehension down most reality-TV-watching couch potatoes퀌_ spines, but not all opera devoid of excitement or comedy.
Sex, love, matrimony, lust, deception, crossdressing and a myriad of other tantalizing subjects are just a few reasons the Portland Opera퀌_s performance of 퀌�The Marriage of Figaro퀌� is something not to be missed.
This 16th-century opera is not your run-of-the-mill drama with large women wearing cone hats and Viking costumes singing at the tops of their lungs. It is a story of four couples and their quest for love and commitment in a confusing and comical society.
The curtain opens on two lovers engaged to be married as they are preparing for their wedding day. How is this different from any other love story, you ask? Well, to start out, the hero, Figaro, recognizes the lust that his master has for his bride-to-be and vows to outwit his lord퀌_s plot to deflower his fianc퀏�, Susanna.
The whole house winds up getting involved in the who-is-trying-to-seduce-whom scenario, and somewhere in act one, you realize that you already know how the story is going to end. At that exact moment, the distracting screen displaying the English subtitles no longer becomes important and all your focus is drawn to the enchanting Italian language reverberating throughout the building. The storyline is staged in much the same way as a Shakespearean play, the only difference being that the dialogue is sung, not spoken.
The Portland Opera had many new faces making their debut opening night at the Keller Auditorium. Two particular women stole the show and owned the evening. Kelley Nassief commanded the stage with her powerful vocal performance as the Countess Almaviva. She had, without a doubt, the most rich and pure voice on stage. Even those who are not music majors can appreciate the elegant talent that she has perfected.
Another newcomer to the Portland Opera is Jennifer Rivera in the role of sex-craved woman-chaser Cherubino. Yes, that퀌_s right, a woman playing a man. Just in case you are unfamiliar with the history of opera, women and (occasionally) young boys, traditionally play the young male roles because their voices are higher and less likely to change mid-performance. Jennifer퀌_s mezzo soprano voice gives her character a spunk that livens up the stage. And, let퀌_s face it, witty sexual banter in any language is funny.
The performance gave me goosebumps, though it could have just been the air conditioner that was on full blast. The auditorium renders a picturesque backdrop and adds to the whole mood of the evening. Saturday night퀌_s premier performance of 퀌�The Marriage of Figaro퀌� proves that although Mozart퀌_s time has passed, his music and ability to transport the audience is still alive and kicking today.