Le Nozze di Figaro, Manitoba Opera

However, it does make for a terrific night of madcapopera
as proven during Manitoba Opera’s 2015/16 season-opener of
Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro ( The Marriage of Figaro).

Last staged by the 43-year old company in 2006, the four-act opera buffa
based on Lorenzo Da Ponte’s Italian libretto is regarded among the top 10
operas performed worldwide. The three-hour plus production directed by MO
newcomer Brent Krysa featured the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra led by Tadeusz
Biernacki (who also prepared the Manitoba Opera Chorus), as well as a dream
team of accomplished Winnipeg-born sopranos.

The first of those is Andriana Chuchman, whose skyrocketing career has
already taken her to the Metropolitan Opera house as well as seeing her gracing
the stage with fabled Spanish tenor Pl·cido Domingo during her LA Opera debut
this fall. An equally compelling actor who last appeared on the MO stage in
2011, Chuchman crafted a radiant Susanna with her Act III aria “Deh, vieni,
non tardar” particularly showcasing her luminous, soaring vocals.


Charismatic local soprano Lara Ciekiewicz continues to prove her gifts as a
natural stage chameleon, able to crack viewers up one moment with her razor
sharp comic timing before breaking their hearts the next with her soulful
performances — such as her MO debut as slave girl Li˘ in
Turandot last April. Her two solos as the Countess Almaviva: “Porgi,
Amor,” matched only by her later mesmerizing “Dove sono I bei momenti”
did the latter, as she revealed the complex emotional underbelly of her deeply
conflicted, all-too-human character.

Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch likewise dazzled with his swaggering
portrayal of the skirt chasing Count who petulantly stomps his feet and wields
large axes. His robust vocals, as displayed during his Act III recitative and
aria “Hai gi‡ vinta la causa! … VedrÚ, mentr’io sospiro,”
added brooding gravitas to the comic froth. His truly touching
finale “Contessa perdono! added its own grace note to the entire

Kudos to veteran mezzo-soprano Donnalynn Grills, grappling with real-life
illness as housekeeper Marcellina. Singing mostly sotto voce,
Grills’ strong acting chops helped sell her character for all she’s worth,
aided by simpatico sidekicks Dr. Bartolo (baritone Peter McGillivray) and Don
Basilio (tenor David Menzies) who valiantly rallied by her side in support.


Canadian bass-baritone Gordon Bintner (MO debut) created a convincing
Figaro, including his “Non piu andrai farfollone amoroso” sung with
military precision, with his portrayal noticeably growing more confident
throughout the performance. He also received the night’s biggest guffaws
after leaping into Grills’ waiting lap as his long-lost mother, later tossing
off his tongue-twisting “Aprite un po’ quegli occhi”
that earned cries of bravo.

Mezzo-soprano Alicia Woynarski (MO debut) created an admirably convincing
male persona in the trouser role of page Cherubino, despite suffering minor
intonation issues during “Non so piu cosa son.” Her later “Voi che sa
pate” fared better, although her lovesick character mooning for women could
have gone much further.

A highlight proved to be seeing now Toronto-based colouratura soprano
Anne-Marie MacIntosh, a recent graduate from the University of Manitoba’s
Desautels Faculty of Music marking her impressive MO debut as Barbarina. This
rising star made every minute of her relatively short stage time count,
including delivering a riveting “L’ho perduta, me meschina” under a starry
night sky.

The stylish, albeit decidedly traditional production included ornate period
costumes and effective sets originally created for Pacific Opera Victoria and
Calgary Opera. Revolving mirrored door panels spun throughout the production at
strategic moments captured designer Bill Williams’ flashing shards of light,
adding to the overall, crazy funhouse atmosphere that’s a bit like love

Holly Harris

image_description=Andriana Chuchman as Susanna and Gordon Bintner as Figaro [Photo by R. Tinker]
product_title=Le Nozze di Figaro, Manitoba Opera
product_by=A review by Holly Harris
product_id=Above: Andriana Chuchman as Susanna and Gordon Bintner as Figaro

Photos by R. Tinker