Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Marriage of Figaro: From Vienna with Love (By Way of the Borscht Belt)

There's the opera buffa-- as reflected in the comedy of life, say, in NYC during the dog days of summer-- and then there's the "Opera Serero" which is a grand entertainment, as the maestro presents his latest operatic adaptation:  Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro  (Le Nozze di Figaro)" in a brief run at the American Sephardic Federation/Center for Jewish History in NYC.

Serero adapts the opera classic into a 90 minute pageant, retaining much of Mozart's brilliant score, performed by a wonderful company, but with a rewritten, contemporized pop libretto that honors Lorenzo Da Ponte's original, and breathes new comic life into the story and characterizations of Figaro and Susanna, the Count and Countess, and the lovestruck Cherubino, to the delight of new audiences. 

As a result, this traditional comic opera displays fresh charm in a low budget but wildly creative production, adding a layer of borscht belt Jewish humor,  (along with a dash of The Godfather, Star Wars and Looney Tunes), to the Mozart and Da Ponte original creation, which remains the cornerstone of opera companies worldwide.

Led by David Serero's Figaro, the cast, including Hannah Madeline Goodman (Susanna), Charles Gray (Count Almaviva), Jennifer Zamorano (Countess) and Allegra Durante (Cherubino), lend humor and warmth to some sublime performances. Accompanist Felix Jarrar drives a solo performance to orchestral heights.  (Serero's appearance as "The Don", and his unexpected detour into Figaro's Aria from Rossini's "Barber of Seville," were at once silly pleasures and demonstrations  of his vocal and comic skill.)  

Tempis fugit, as do the summer months. Catch this joyously funny adaptation while you can. July 11 through July 21. Tickets at ASFFigaro.bpt.me, or call 1-800-836-3006.

—Anthony Napoli



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