Scottish Opera: The Marriage of Figaro
Sir Thomas Allen moves from performing to directing
Poacher turned gamekeeper isn’t overly common in the world of opera, but one internationally famous singer who has successfully moved from performing to directing is Sir Thomas Allen. Bringing the same team who produced a hugely enjoyable Barber of Seville for Scottish Opera in 2007, Allen returns with Mozart’s opera which shares the same central character, The Marriage of Figaro.
In tall tales of everyday upstairs-downstairs life, the opera’s action is on the day – the day of madness – before Figaro’s wedding to Susanna, played by one of Scottish Opera’s ‘Emerging Artists’, Nadine Livingston, who finds working with Allen as director of enormous benefit. ‘He knows what it’s like for singers from every angle,’ she says, ‘and he’s got every base covered.’ Having sung in Figaro many times, it is no wonder that Allen knows it intimately. ‘He’s got such insight into the piece and into everything we’re doing.’ says Livingston, ‘Even in stagecraft techniques, it’s incredible what he’s teaching us.’
As a young baritone with Welsh National Opera, The Marriage of Figaro was one of Allen’s first successes playing Count Almaviva, Figaro’s employer, who also has his eye on Susanna. ‘He’s absolutely sympathetic to young singers and completely agrees that the sort of environment provided by Scottish Opera is a perfect place to start.’
The production is, says Livingston, ‘very traditional and extremely beautiful, with a gorgeous set and stunning costumes.’ One subtle difference is Livingston’s portrayal of Susanna. ‘The old tradition is of playing her coy,’ she says, ‘but she’s actually very strong and feisty. She always knows what’s going on, is always in control, even if people think she’s not. The central theme is a couple in love, who take pleasure in winding each other up. I can’t wait for it to start.’
Puppet show and song performances of ‘A Little Bit of Figaro’ will take place Wed 10 Nov, 11.30am and 1pm, Festival Theatre cafe, Edinburgh; Forest café, Edinburgh, Wed 10 Nov, 2.30 & 3.30pm.
Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Fri 29 Oct, Sun 31 Oct, Tue 30 Nov, Thu 2 Dec, Sat 4 Dec; Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Fri 19 Nov, Sun 21 Nov, Tue 23 Nov, Thu 25 Nov, Sat 27 Nov.