Marriage of Figaro

November 29, 2014

 

Galina Barskaya Music Director and Jay Stephenson Stage Director.

 

Cast:
Count- Eric Castro, Ken Simms
Countess- Evelyn Thatcher, Ali Borboa, Jenny Ohrstrom (cover)
Susanna- Meggie Lane, Nicole Bouffard (cover)
Figaro- Raed Saade, Stefan Miller
Cherubino- Jessica Mirshak, Athena Greco
Marcellina- Christie Lynn Lawrence, Jessica Wallace
Basilio/Curzio- Michael Cruz, Joe Michels, Paul Junger (cover)
Bartolo- Michael Margulies, Terry Welborn
Antonio- Bill Bartlett, Aaron Halliburton
Barbarina- Amanda Benjamin, Rachell Pak

STAGE DIRECTOR'S NOTES

 

FIGARO: A Space Opera

The adage “There is nothing new under the sun” was never truer than in the case of staging “The Marriage of Figaro”.  In an effort to bring us closer to the story, I have gone in search of a new and distant star some 230 light-years from Earth.  The idea of resetting the story on a distant planet may seem absurd, but consider the original setting was moved to the Spanish castle of Aguas Frescas at the insistence of the Parisian censors.

 

When “La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro” (The Crazy Day, or the Marriage of Figaro) was first presented as a play to King Louis XVI, he remarked, “Détestable!”  He went on to say that before the play could be presented publicly, the Bastille would need to be torn down to prevent a peasant revolt.

When it was finally presented to the public after revision, Pierre Beaumarchais’s play was so successful; it saw 68 consecutive performances with higher box-office earnings than any other French play of the entire eighteenth century.  A mere five years later, on July 14, 1789; insurgents stormed the Bastille.

 

The changing of location does not change the impact of the story.

 

The Countess should ask Don Curzio for the name of a good divorce lawyer.

 

It is difficult for the modern audience to appreciate how a theater piece could be so dangerous as to spark a revolution that could overturn centuries of imperial rule.  It’s harder still to imagine that in western society a woman dressed in pants with ankles exposed for all to see would ever be considered salacious.  On the other hand, the idea of a married man having a sexual relationship with a 12 year-old girl is too racy even for the likes of HBO’s The Game of Thrones. 

 

Most modern interpretations leave the audience slightly perplexed asking whether or not Susanna should take her grievance of sexual harassment up with the department of Human Resources.   This once dangerous piece of theater has been reduced to a charming Downton Abbey with pretty melodies and stock characterizations at its best, and a dullard at its worst.

 

The Marvelous Comics

 

Every generation grew up reading comic books. The term “Space Opera” is a pejorative to describe a subgenre of Science Fiction depicted in graphic novels.  It is a variation on the term Soap Opera which coincidentally also has been in a state of popular decline in recent years.  The term was never meant to describe opera; that is until now.

 

I’m looking to present this opera in the guise of a graphic novel with English translations in lettering, background layouts, costumes and make up, all reminiscent of a classic comic book.  

The graphic novel, like film and opera; deals with universal themes such as revenge, sexual obsession, infidelity, risky and dangerous behavior, love, and intrigue.  It is well suited to the genre of opera because it speaks directly to us on a gut level.  This Marriage of Figaro is a marriage of opera and the graphic novel that will  take the audience out of the "real" world and put them into a comic book store. 

 

- Jay Stephenson

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