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OperaRox Figaro by Patrick Dillon of OperaNews The National Opera Center is a tough space for seeing a full opera, let alone staging one, particularly one as dependent on adroitly managed action as Le nozze di Figaro. But the young company that calls itself OperaRox defied the odds to produce a Figaro far more entertaining than many I’ve seen in a big international house, with big-name singers. Amber Treadway’s staging—the piano took up a big chunk of her available playing area, with a multipurpose chair and, for the act 2 gabinetto, a large zippered plastic garment bag—might be better termed a semi-staging, with its lack of evocative sets and costumes. But when, for example, Cherubino takes his leap from the Countess’s second-floor window and what we see is a short half-jump into a narrow side aisle, we—the audience—are happy to fill in the rest. This is a performance that makes us want to believe what we’re not really seeing; we’re complicit in the theatrical experience. From his fleet, nimble playing of the overture on, we felt happily in two good hands with music director Dmitry Glivinsky. (And OperaRox is an enterprise that accords even his page turner, Anna Slate—who also covered Susanna—program credit.) The singers were an impressive lot; though the quality varied, there was no doubt about anyone’s commitment, and all of them did their best to bring da Ponte’s Italian text meaningfully to life. Pressured to name names, I’d have to single out—as befits the couple of the titular marriage—Michael Maliakel’s Figaro (what a lovely, warm bass-baritone voice!) and Devony Smith’s Susanna (utterly alive and natural, and beautifully sung). OperaRox founder Kimberly Feltkamp, the Cherubino, had me checking my


program for her gender when she tumbled onto stage, so convincing was she as a twitchily teenage boy. I was sorry for some of the cuts (notably, “Aprite un po’” and the wonderful little quartet postlude to the act 3 sextet, with Susanna, Figaro, and his newfound parents all vying for the title of Most Happy Fella or Gal). But that wasn’t enough to make me feel in any significant way shortchanged by this energetic, entertaining Figaro. PATRICK DILLON

OperaRox Figaro - Patrick Dillon  
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