Being the first production of the Irish National Opera, The Marriage of Figaro, shows much promise
of what is to come for Irish Opera.
Mozart’s tale of love and adultery set in a Count’s home in Seville has been transported to the
1960’s by director Patrick Mason, but the sexual revolution is yet to take place on this family estate
(except for, perhaps, the young Cherubino), as Count Almaviva seeks the love of Figaro’s bride-to- be,
Susanna, only to be thwarted and misguided as all of the winding plots unfold.
The vocals from all the cast, in particular Tara Erraught, Jonathan Lemalu and Máire Flavin (playing
Susanna, Figaro and the Countess respectively) soars with confidence and bravado. Coupled with the
Irish Chamber Orchestra flawlessly conducted by Peter Whelan, the attention of the entire audience
is hooked and woven through the tears, the joy and comedy the opera has to offer. Paul Keogan’s
lighting design perfectly compliments the emotion on stage and does well to keep up with the music.
Designed by Francis O’Connor, both the set and costumes effortlessly slip this opera into recent
history where the story still rings true, over two-hundred years after it was first performed. Yet
although the cast may be dressed in psychedelic patterns and groovy colours, the swinging sixties
these are not.
Not only are the vocals from the cast impressive, but their acting is as strong as any other show
playing up to the farce of the piece. Aoife Miskelly’s Cherubino rarely had a moment on stage where
the audience weren’t laughing, and if they weren’t it is because they were entranced by her solos.
Even the orchestra’s presence on stage was that of a character, as if it were trying to guide the rest
along their way.
My favourite thing about this production has to be how gleamingly clear it was that everyone on
stage was enjoying themselves. It is a unique type of energy when a show comes together with such
harmony and effort that it almost seems effortless and injected with true, palpable emotion.
This production is a magnificent premiere for the newly founded Irish National Opera, setting a high
standard for their future productions.
The Marriage of Figaro runs in The Gaiety Friday 20 th and Saturday 21 st April at 7:30pm.
Review by Johnny Walsh