Jan 26, 2010

Figaro’s Wedding

by Tiffany Edwards

A soon-to-be-married man harassed by a lovesick coworker and a mafia kingpin, a skirt-chasing Italian restaurant owner and a flirtatious boy who dresses as a woman to escape being shipped off to military school. This is the plot of the Liberty version of Mozart’s opera “Figaro’s Wedding.”

A rewrite of “The Marriage of Figaro,” “Figaro’s Wedding” was written in 2002 by music professors Drs. Wayne Kompelien and John Hugo. The original opera is an “opera buffa,” which is Italian for comedic opera. Kompelien and Hugo rewrote the setting to modern-day New York City instead of 18th century Italy.

“We set it in New York in an Italian restaurant called All Maviva’s. The basic structure of the original Marriage of Figaro is there, but with a modern setting,” Kompelien said. “Count Almaviva is the main character in the Barber of Seville, so we just called him ‘Al Maviva.’”

The opera focuses on the plight of Tony Figaro, the restaurant’s manager, played by Joel Taylor, and his beloved Susanna Fiori, a waitress at the restaurant, played by Eliza Buckley. With their wedding only a day away, Figaro needs the money to pay back the loan he took from his coworker Marcy to pay for Fiori’s engagement ring. Marcy sells his loan to vengeful mob boss Don Bartolo, and Figaro has three choices: pay the loan by that evening, marry Marcy or have his right arm cut off at the elbow. Bartolo, played by John East, routinely torments Figaro in the play.

In the meantime, Figaro’s fiancée has her own problems with Figaro’s boss, Maviva, who offers them a free apartment next to his own. Maviva is ferociously pursuing Fiori, though he is already married. Fiori must also keep her young friend Charlie, Maviva’s nephew, from being shipped off to military school because of his habit of flirting.

The opera progresses with many hilarious mishaps as Figaro and Fiori stall time to fend off an angry mobster and simultaneously try to rekindle love between Maviva and his wife.

“The Marriage of Figaro is considered one of the great Mozart operas. The music itself is just terrific … and the Marriage of Figaro has a lot of characters,” Kompelien said. “We rewrote the version so it would be crowd appealing for what we are trying to do. It just seemed to be a really good fit.”

Kompelien and the cast of “Figaro’s Wedding” began rehearsing the opera in September 2009 in an Opera Workshop class so that it would be ready in time for the spring performances. All cast members had to audition for the workshop before the rehearsals began.

The role of Marcy is double-cast. Singers Sophia Curtis and Michelle Franklin both play the part, with Curtis performing opening weekend and Franklin performing the next weekend. For Franklin, performing in an opera is a new experience.

“I love the technique (of singing opera) and giving other people the emotions you are feeling and showing them what is going on with your character,” Franklin said. “My character is a cougar, which I think is hysterical. She’s preying on a man who is 18 years younger than her, and that’s just totally opposite of my personality. It cracks me up.”

Senior Joel Taylor plays the part of Tony Figaro as his final role at Liberty.

“I love the action and all the movement. I love this cast. I have great chemistry with pretty much everyone on stage. I especially like that this is my last semester, and I’m kind of going out with a bang,” Taylor said. “(Tony Figaro) is a very warm character. He’s easy to like. Most interesting are probably the situations he’s faced with, and how he overcomes them.”

“Figaro’s Wedding” opened Jan. 21, and is scheduled for four more performances. For information about tickets and show times, contact the Liberty theatre box office at (434) 582-2085.

Contact Tiffany Edwards at

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