Our featured opera in April is The Marriage of Figaro.
Our new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, will transport audiences to colonial India during Victorian Imperial rule. Sexual politics and class resentments play out through the prism of shifting power and revolution, culminating in a riotously colorful Indian wedding that will bring the exuberance and festivity of Bollywood to Opera San José. This month, explore the company’s long history with the works of Mozart, become enchanted with the musical talents of our upcoming cast, and explore the detailed design process that this beautiful new production entails.
Costume Design Preview: The Marriage of Figaro
The costumes in this production, set in the British Raj in Northern India in 1880’s, represent the serving class such as Susanna and Figaro are Indian characters, while the Count and Rosina are British Raj characters, who are ruling over them. This setting provides so many ways of storytelling and rendering the characters with vibrant textures, colors and accessories. Many of the characters are dancing and form a parallel with the uptight British characters, who are trying to rule over them, but simultaneously, are getting changed by them. This production is creating the perfect canvas to apply the concept and setting of South Asian material culture and storytelling, to Mozart’s beautiful music.
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Scenic Design Preview: The Marriage of Figaro
Get an inside look at the sets for our new production of The Marriage of Figaro, from Set Designer Steven C. Kemp. “When Khori approached me about doing this piece, I knew this was going to be incredibly special,” says Kemp. “She has this brilliant idea of setting the piece within the British Raj which perfectly connects with the revolutionary spirit of the opera as well as allows us with the design to tap into the rich, beautiful Indian culture and bring in those architectural details into the space.”
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Act I The Servant’s Work Room
The Count is giving Susanna and Figaro this room as a wedding present with the caveat that he has easy access into the space to see Susanna whenever he wants. The servant’s work room, which Susanna and Figaro are already familiar with, is now being converted into their living quarters. The singular door upstage leads into this network of hallways connecting us to the Countess’ room that we see in Act II.
Act II The Countess’s Room
As a contrast to the servant’s work space, the Countess’s room was inspired by the City Palace and the Peacock Gate in Jaipur, Rajasthan which is reflected in the architecture of her quarters. We see out of these beautiful windows, similar to a British solarium, out into the garden of Act IV. The high walls, the british detail of the paintings, and the furniture, indicate that the Countess is longing for home in her space, layering into the Indian world.
Act III The Wedding
The stage transforms into this ornate hall, where we see out into the nature of the garden, and there is this giant flower structure being set up for Susanna and Figaro’s wedding, all these elements capturing the grandeur of the Indian world.
Act IV The Garden
Breaking the symmetry of the previous acts, we are now out in nature as frequently seen in Mozart’s operas. It is out in the wild nature of the world that we are able to tie into all the romance of the characters and watch as they work out their conflicts.
Virtual Concert: “Sull’ aria” from The Marriage of Figaro
For this month’s last virtual concert, Maria Natale, Maya Kherani and Veronika Agranov-Dafoe perform Susanna and the Countess’ beautiful duet “Sull’aria”. Plotting to trick the Count, who has been attempting to seduce Susanna, the Countess dictates a letter to Susanna that informs the Count where he can meet Susanna that evening. Susanna repeats the Countess’s words as she writes.
Artist Spotlight: Set Designer Steven C. Kemp
Set Designer Steven C. Kemp is no stranger to those familiar with Opera San José. His first production here was Anna Karenina in 2010, and has since designed 17 operas for OSJ. Steven recalls of that first production, “… I was intimidated and slightly concerned as to what Irene Dalis would think of the very abstract and poetic take on the design we were working on. At the end of the week I turned in the scene by scene photos of the model my assistant and I had been working away on day and night and awaited word from Irene. When she told me how much she absolutely loved the design and that it was perfect I was so incredibly proud and felt like I could conquer any challenge.” More…
Artist Spotlight: Efraín Solís
We are excited to welcome Efraín Solís to Opera San José, as he makes his company debut this season in the title role of The Marriage of Figaro. Raised in Santa Ana, CA, he’s no stranger to the Bay Area as a former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow. Efraín was in choirs all his life, and his father is a church musician, so he was lucky enough to always have music around when he was growing up. When he went to his first opera, he was instantly hooked and was able to start taking voice lessons with his choir director where he discovered his ability to sing opera himself. More…
We are delighted to be welcoming soprano Maria Natale back to Opera San José! You might remember her thrilling appearances as Nedda in Pagliacci, Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus with Opera San José. We are eager to hear Maria in the role of the estranged Countess in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and again in Salome, as she makes her role debut as Salome in this ravishing masterpiece. More…
Artist Spotlight: Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong
We are pleased to introduce Mozart specialist Francesco Lecce-Chong in his company debut conducting our new production of The Marriage of Figaro. We asked the Maestro to reflect on what he loves about performing Mozart and what he believes makes Figaro worthy of often being considered “a perfect opera”. His enthusiasm for the work is infectious! We cannot wait to discover Maestro Lecce-Chong’s interpretation of Mozart’s masterpiece as he conducts our upcoming production of The Marriage of Figaro. More…
Blog Post: Brad Dalton – Stage Director for The Marriage of Figaro
Exuberantly colorful, and also cruel: stage director Brad Dalton delves into the world of India under British Colonial rule, where our Figaro will be set next season. Read his thoughts here!
As I am writing this, opera and indeed all communal theatre events in America have come to a crashing halt, leaving us yearning for the day when we can once again join together to experience the special magic that only live performance can provide. Now more than ever, we long for works that explore the depths of the human heart, and what better way to celebrate our emergence from this dark period than with a vibrant new production of that most profoundly joyous work, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. More…
Today’s virtual concert features Maya Kherani and Head of Music Staff Veronika Agranov-Dafoe performing “’Deh, vieni e non tardar.” We can’t wait to see Maya on stage as Susanna in our reimagined production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro next season! Former OSJ conductor (Alma Deutscher’s “Cinderella,” 2017) and Mozart specialist Jane Glover’s evocative and beautifully written biography “Mozart’s Women: His Family, His Friends, His Music” illuminates the music, the man, and the women who inspired him: “But the most miraculous moment for [Susanna] comes almost at the end of the opera, in her aria ‘Deh, vieni e non tardar.’ She knows at this stage that Figaro has begun to entertain totally unjustified suspicions of her own fidelity; and as she continues to carry out the plan of deceiving the Count, she gently turns the tables on Figaro too.”
In this virtual concert, Resident Artist Eugene Brancoveanu collaborates with Head of Music Staff Veronika Agranov-Dafoe to perform Count Almaviva’s fiery “Hai gia Vinta”. Watch as the Count comes to the realization that he is being set up by Susanna and Figaro and angrily vows to take revenge. We are eagerly anticipating Eugene portray one of Mozart’s best known antagonists in next season’s new production of The Marriage of Figaro.
Artist profile: Maya Kherani
We are thrilled to be welcoming Maya Kherani back to Opera San José! Some of our audience members may remember Maya from our 2017 production of Così fan tutti with her California Theatre stage debut as Despina when she stepped in to cover the role for the run’s final performance. Grace under pressure, she certainly made a lasting impression that evening.
The opera world in general can count themselves as fortunate to have Maya among us all, as her early resume certainly does not reflect that of a typical opera singer. Maya had never even seen an opera, much less been in one, when she auditioned on a whim and won the role of Barbarina in a college production of “The Marriage of Figaro”. While that experience undeniably changed her life, and she continued to study and train as a soprano, opera was still on the back burner as Maya pursued a career in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. And yet, she couldn’t shake the opera bug! While Maya’s decision to pursue a career in opera full time, departing from her Stanford University PhD program, raised a few eyebrows among her colleagues, her undeniable talent has won over the most sever of skeptics. We are eagerly awaiting to hear Maya as Susanna in next season’s reimagined production of The Marriage of Figaro, as she will revisit the work that catapulted her into the opera world.
The Marriage of Figaro has one of the most recognizable overtures in all of opera. To kick off Figaro Month, enjoy this virtual concert featuring Resident Conductor Christopher James Ray and Music Staff Director Veronika Agranov-Dafoe as they collaborate on this four handed rendition!