BWW INTERVIEWS: BWWSydney Chats To Director Michael Gow Ahead Of Opera Australia's Regional Tour of THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO

By: Jul. 12, 2016
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Opera Australia's 2016 Tour of THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO brings Mozart's fast paced opera about love, lust, deception and jealousy to audiences in regional areas of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Under the direction of Michael Gow, the period production has been recreated to handle the rigours of touring whilst still ensuring that audiences that may not necessarily have the opportunity to visit a major city are still treated to the grandeur of the opera.

For those less familiar with the work, THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO is comic opera written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the 18th Century. It focuses the goings on in household filled with wealthy masters and clever servants over the course of day. The Count intervenes on his servant Figaro's marriage plans with the aim of luring Figaro's bride Susanna, a maid in the Count's household, for himself, all the while becoming enraged when he thinks one of his Page boys has designs on his wife, the Countess. The residents from above and below stairs plot and plan to cure the Count of his jealousy and also ensure that Figaro and Susanna can be married.

Whilst THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO was staged at the Opera House last year, under the direction of Sir David McVicar, Michael Gow wants to give regional audiences, which may not have had the opportunity to come into the city, a "sense of what a period production is like". Gow and Set and Costume Designer Robert Kemp have "created a beautiful backdrop against which wonderful characters in stunning costumes appear". The touring production 'simplifies' the work to one set that "changes location with small additions". Gow does note however that this paring back did prove one of the challenges of creating and staging the tour as the set and costumes needed to be designed to be "unpacked and then packed up in one day, then fit in a tuck and go to the next venue" whilst ensuring that the production still looks great.

Gow has adapted the work, originally sung in Italian, to be presented entirely in English with English dialogue in place of the recitative which would normally be accompanied by harpsichord. He has also rewritten the text to allow the usual adult chorus of peasants and hunters to be adapted to suit the Regional Children's Chorus which forms a part of Opera Australia's Touring and Outreach project. Gow has worked the Children's Chorus into the plot to have them represent local children who come to see the wedding.

Gow shared that dealing with the children is a highlight of the process as "children love it and so do adult singers". He admits that the "music is quite complex for children to learn so there's a lot of coaching" and the challenge of keeping children focused but rested enough during the long rehearsal days takes skill but he has found that "usually excitement kicks in and they're ready to go" when they have to perform that night.

When posed with the question of memorable moments from the process of bringing THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO to the stage Gow shared that "the first time you run through the whole show is nail-biting. Hopefully it all hangs together and though there's still work to do, there's a feeling of achievement." Another big moment is "the first time the orchestra and singers are together in the theatre".

Whilst the Regional Tour wishes to bring THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO and the joy of opera to a wider audience, Gow's main hope is that people will be entertained and walk away from the production with "a big smile".

Parramatta | Riverside Theatre (NSW) | Friday 19 August & Saturday 20 August

For full list of cities please see Opera Australia Website



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