The Marriage of Figaro

Figaro, one of the funniest and most beloved characters in all of opera returns to Central City with a host of wonderful voices, a delightful score, and an impressively detailed and flexible set, in Mozart's classic send up of Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais' second of a triptych of plays (Le Barbier de Séville, Le Mariage de Figaro, and La Mère coupable).

Michael Sumuel as Figaro and Anna Christy as Susanna
Michael Sumuel as Figaro
and Anna Christy as Susanna
Photo: Mark Kiryluk
Bass-baritone Michael Sumuel makes his Central City Opera (CCO) debut in the title role and wows us with his warm, rich timbre and Italian arabesques. Anna Christy's (Susanna) sumptuous soprano and simpatico with Sumuel make for spirited love story.

Edward Parks as Count Almaviva and Sinead Mulhern as the Countess
Edward Parks as Count Almaviva
and Sinead Mulhern as the Countess
Photo: Mark Kiryluk

Resonant baritone Edward Parks makes an impressive CCO debut as Count Almaviva, smoothly handling the challenging nasty to contrite character arc. Sinéad Mulhern is luminescent as the long-suffering Countess. Tamara Gura shines her U.S. and CCO debut in the trousers role of Cherubino. Claire Shackleton is hoot in her professional debut as the (ultimately) ironic Marcellina. Strong work from Thomas Hammons as Don Bartolo, Joseph Gaines as Don Basilio, and Julie Tabash as Barbarina.

Left to right: Claire Shackleton (Marcellina), Joseph Gaines (Don Basilio), Edward Parks (Count), Thomas Hammons (Don Bartolo)
(L to R) Claire Shackleton (Marcellina),
Joseph Gaines (Don Basilio),
Edward Parks (Count),
and Thomas Hammons (Don Bartolo)
Photo: Mark Kiryluk
In a perfect world, it would not be necessary to draw attention to CCO artistic director Pat Pearce's casting of Sumuel, an African-American in the title role, but it deserves accolades whether it was meant to serve as an example of color-blind casting, or whether it was meant as commentary on the European caste system that was in place at the time Mozart and his librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, created this classic. Figaro is, of course, Count Almaviva's servant, as is his betrothed, Susanna. The chorus (peasants) thanks Count Almaviva a number of times for his public declaration that he will no longer uphold the long-standing practice that entitles him to sexual privileges with his female subjects. The conflicts that ensue mirror the civil rights struggle for people of color and for women.

Stage director Alessandro Talevi's thoughtful staging, Madeleine Boyd's stylish set, and maestro Adrian Kelly's well-tempered rendition with the festival orchestra cap off a delightful and insightful evening.

Central City Opera's production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro runs in repertory with Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking through July 26th, followed by the Denver production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music, through August 10th. For tickets: 303-292-6700 or

Bob Bows


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