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Mozart meets Carry On in this comic romp

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

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THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO

★★★★

Theatre Royal, Plymouth.

COSTUMES by Jason King – stage direction from the Carry-On school – this really was a comic opera which didn't take itself too seriously at all.

Mozart's Marriage of Figaro is a bawdy romp from start to finish – and a thoroughly enjoyable one at that.

This 1960s reworking – think of Peter Wyngarde in Department S to get some idea of the costumes and wigs – mixed Mozart's original setting in 18th Century Seville with the hippy-trippy culture of the 1960s.

Anyone who has ever seen a Carry On film will recognise some of the absurd plot devices, such as amorous suitors hiding behind the furniture and girls dressed as boys pretending to be girls, which only goes to prove there is nothing new under the comic sun.

In the middle of all the plotting and scheming and misunderstandings, some of which would make a Restoration playwright blush they were that rudimentary, there were some marvellous numbers.

Countess Almaviva (Layla Claire's) aria in the third act mourning her rocky marriage to Count Almaviva was worth the trip to Plymouth, not that I needed much persuading.

Faced with the choice between Glyndebourne on tour or some second-rate celebrity scoffing a wallaby's genitals on TV in the name of entertainment, it was no contest.

Newcomers to opera are often worried it will be high-brow and they won't understand a word of it. Thanks to supertitles – a synopsis of what's being sung flashed up above the stage – ignorance is a thing of the past.

The supertitles for the Marriage of Figaro bordered on the minimalist at times, which wasn't to everyone's taste.

Having said that my companion for the evening, a real opera rookie, said the titles were just right. "It meant you could enjoy the music without having to keep looking up and down at the words all the time," she said.

Glyndebourne are currently in the middle of a two-month tour and you can catch them at the Theatre Royal until Saturday.

There are alternating performances of the Marriage of Figaro and Rusalka, a fairy tale penned by Dvorak, Check the website (www.theatreroyal.co.uk) for times.

CONRAD SUTCLIFFE

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