Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, written in 1786, is frequently referred to as the "perfect opera," and rightly so. The music is absolutely glorious--not a single bad note. And the story of love, lust, jealousy, power, and deceit--Mozart's first collaboration with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, based on Beaumarchais' stage comedy--is both hilarious and moving, standard opera buffa transformed by the composer's psychological sensitivity and genius for characterizing people's actions and emotions in music. Chicago Opera Theater's production, sung in Italian, is terrific, with superb orchestral playing and singing, especially in the gorgeous duets, trios, quartets, and sextets. COT has updated the opera, setting it in affluent contemporary Miami instead of 18th-century Spain; the spare costumes and sets are effective, though the liberties taken with the libretto translations and the ongoing references to cell phones and text messaging get a little old. But this is a small price to pay. Soprano Jane Archibald, who has a sweet, crystalline voice, and baritone Christian Van Horn are excellent as Susanna and Figaro, the two servants who want to get married, though the chemistry between them is a bit weak. Mezzo Sandra Piques Eddy is wonderfully over-the-top as Cherubino, the sexually out-of-control adolescent page, particularly in his famously randy aria "Non so piu cosa son, cosa faccio." Baritone Alexander Tall is outstanding as the predatory count who lusts after Susanna, and soprano Krisztina Szabo is dazzling as the countess--and heartbreaking at the start of act two, when she grieves her lost happiness while languishing on a chaise longue with a drink. Jane Glover conducts. Sat 5/14, 7:30 PM, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-704-8414, $30-$105.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Brian Dickie.