Strong Female Leads Take Center Stage In The Marriage of Figaro

From Left to Right: Sara Law (Susanna), Daniil Alekseenko (Figaro), Eun Byoul Song (Countess Almaviva), Nathaniel Voth (Count Almaviva), David Presler (Bartolo), Max Alexander Cook (Basilio), and Kaitlin Bertschi (Marcellina) in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. Photo, Angelica Perez

The Miami Music Festival opened its production of The Marriage of Figaro on Friday night at the Miami Beach Senior High School. After a beautiful and precise rendition of the overture, conducted by Raphael Jimenez, the evening’s stars immediately became apparent.

Sara Law projected confidence and eloquence as Susanna, with a beautiful top end to her voice that never tired. Law openly contemplated the questions her character raised, such “Is a man wicked because he has eyes in the back of his head?” We loved every second of Law’s ability to show us Susanna’s internal thought process, and she gave us a character that never faltered.

Director Corinne Hayes has crafted a production that highlights the talent and potential of the female leads in this production. The characters of Susanna and the Countess fleshed out and highlighted as Mozart intended them to be. Costume Designer, Patricia Hibbert created a brilliant and colorful ensemble that felt very at home in a Miami-based production. The wigs were particularly stunning with Marcellina’s ombre and Basilio’s flowing white locks.  

Brava to India Rowland as Cherubino who presented a strong voice with unwavering energy that communicated the youth and impetuous nature of Cherubino perfectly. Rowland delivered a stunning “Voi che sapete,” and it was refreshing to see a slightly more maturely-played Cherubino; one we felt could actually pursue a Countess, rather than the stereotypical “choirboy.”

From Left to Right: Eun Byoul Song (Countess Almaviva), Kaitlin Bertschi (Marcellina), Nathaniel Voth (Count Almaviva). Photo: Angelica Perez

Eun Byoul Song cuts a regal and maternal figure as the Countess while gently navigating the love sick Cherubino. The vocal pairing of Song with Rowland and Law in the ensemble scenes showed a wonderful contrast in the character development. The trio demonstrated a palpable camaraderie on stage, again, displaying the care and attention of Director, Corrine Hayes in strengthening the interactions of these characters.

Nathaniel Voth as the Count gave an effortless and powerful performance with excellent recitative. With a striking jaw line and facial structure that could be seen in the cheap seats, the brooding Count was topped off by another excellent wig. The comic relief of the evening came from Max Alexander Cook as Basilio. Our eyes were drawn to Cook in every scene. He remained in character as Basilio throughout the night, adding essential gestures and working a beautiful flowing wig to add a fabulous edge to his stage presence. Catherine McAree delivered a beautiful, “L’ho perduta, me meschina,” as Barbarina.

Susanna and Marcellina gave a rousing performance at the end of the second act in a fight that erupted into an ensemble kick line, with lighting design, created by Julia LaVault, that accompanied the chaos of the predicament. Again, the female characters faced off, and we saw the effort to define their roles in the moment.

The Miami Music Festival presented a well-crafted production of The Marriage of Figaro in a comfortable venue at the Miami Beach Senior High School with very easy (and free!) parking. While the prospect of devoting more resources and performances to the production of new opera is exciting, the festival’s ability to produce a perennial favorite, such as Figaro, continues to support its mission—bringing cutting edge and much needed operatic performances to the Miami area.

Next up in the Miami Music Festival, Mozart’s The Magic Flute June 30th, July 25th and 28th at Temple Emanu-El, 1701 Washington Ave in Miami Beach, and the Marriage of Figaro, July 26th and 27th at Miami Beach Senior High School.

Sarah is a freelance composer and writer.

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