The School of Music, Theatre and Dance will be opening their new opera, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” on Friday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Byrum Hall.
“The Marriage of Figaro” delves into the dynamic characteristics of social class, wealth and power. This is done through the exploration of romantic relationships, jealousy and drama.
The School of Music, Theatre and Dance has incorporated a political twist to their rendition of Mozart’s opera through their artistic portrayal of the different characters.
Junior voice performance and dance complementary major Clare Lillig said the opera is hard to explain because a lot happens in the plot.
“I am playing Susanna, who marries Figaro,” Lillig said. “Figaro is the butler to the count, and I am the maid to the countess.
“The story is that it’s the day of our wedding, and the count wants to sleep with me. There was a custom a while ago that that was okay, but they got rid of it. Figaro and I make this scheme that we are going to trick the countess, and we dress up someone as a girl to trick her. There’s lots of mistaken identity.”
Lillig said that there’s somewhat of a happy ending in the fourth act.
“In the third act, we do end up getting married finally,” she said. “In the fourth act, there’s even more mistaken identity. It does end up with a happy ending, but it’s very confusing.”
Lillig said that because she is so interested in the opera genre, this was her dream role. She said she admires this character and wishes she had some of the traits Susanna has.
“I remember when I was 14 or 15 I dreamed of wanting to play Susanna,” Lillig said. “She’s a sassy maid, and she wins every situation. It’s been really fun for me to delve into the character and figure out her motives.”
She said that the story has brought a lot of discussion because of how confusing it is.
“The rehearsals have been really fun,” Lillig said. “We’ve had a lot of talks because the story is so confusing to try to figure out exactly what is happening, so we’re not just singing, but we actually know what’s going on.”
Lillig said that she hopes the audience will enjoy Mozart’s music throughout the opera. She also said there’s a lot to learn from this show.
“There’s a lot to learn about the imbalance of power,” Lillig said. “We can always stand up for ourselves against the bigger picture, and there’s always room for redemption.
Junior musical theatre major Conner Thompson is playing Count Almaviva, the lord of the estate.
“If it was set in the original times, the count would have ultimate power and final say in affairs,” Thompson said. “We have transported this portion of his character set in modern times so the character is foiled again and again.”
He said that he may seem like a villain, but he’s not altogether a corrupt character.
“His desires marginalize his wife the countess, but he does not care for her,” he said. “He is in conflict between his reputation and desires, but can only be defeated by Figaro if his power is distracted.”
Thompson said that this is a different journey than any other show he’s been involved in.
“This is the first major part I have ever held in an opera,” Thompson said. “Especially with such a large part in a Mozart opera, there has been a difficult balance between character development, evolving my acting technique for an opera and achieving the material with professional skill.”
He said that his co-actors have added a lot to his experience.
“I have had a very positive experience with my co-actors,” Thompson said. “Their support and enthusiasm has made the process lighter and much more enjoyable.”
Thompson said that he hopes the audience can relate to some of the characters.
“I hope the audience can relate to the servants and common citizens in their conflict and fighting against the desires of the count,” Thompson said. “I hope it will make them consider the consequences of such a society and where our society stands.”
He said that he wants to remind the audience that the opera is a comedy. Despite the themes and messages, it is meant to be fun and enjoyable.
There will also be shows on Saturday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, March 10, at 2:30 p.m. in Byrum Hall. AU students receive two free tickets to the production.
Tickets for adults cost $12. Seniors, military and non-AU students must pay $5. Seniors are categorized as anyone over 60 years of age.