Sunday, March 02, 2008
Review: Shreveport Opera presented Mozart's much-performed Marriage of Figaro with contemporary set and costumes, but no mics
a) "These singers do not use mics," reminded Eric Dilner. Indeed, the stage was full of highly-accomplished singers. They hit their notes and projected simultaneously. It is a worthy goal for amateurs, too.
b) The contemporary setting somehow seemed to flow with the florid Italian score. The design, which must have been shared between Dilner and Bill Fabris, director, mostly found a middle ground. Mark Walters, a fluent Count Almaviva, wore a weekend jacket which looked like SteinMart. Then he changed to a cutaway lounge jacket. I think it worked partly because Walters was such an appealing singer and actor.
c) The curved stage set, which I believe enhanced vocal projection, was visually inviting. There were several moments of canny light design: bathing the stage in blue was clever after a considerable pink and white period. Throwing up the house lights for Figaro's warning to the men in the audience - sung engagingly by Grant Underwood - did not seem to upset the balance of the show.
d) The electonic libretto is like a kitchen toaster: essential and yet to be perfected. The way that the lyrics were projected was at times confusing. Were we to always read horizontal lines or were some parts in vertical columns? Would it be enriching to insert Italian passages into the blank spaces in which we assumed that the singers were repeating a phrase? I think more time and money spent on the projected libretto would bring much appreciation from the audience.
e) It was exciting to feel the surge of a crowd large enough to strain the resources of the Riverview Theater. There were lots of young people in attendance, too. Let it be noted that in Shreveport the opera is popula.