The Marriage of Figaro, Kings Head Theatre, opera review: Inspirational

The singing and playing is of such a high standard that one forgets it’s all done on a shoestring

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The Independent Culture

After four colourful years at the Kings Head, OperaUpClose are planning to spread their wings nationally, but they’re bidding farewell to this venerable pub-theatre with revivals of three of their best shows, plus a new production of The Marriage of Figaro which, by its sheer inspirational verve, outshines them all.

Seven singers and three instrumentalists sound pretty meagre forces for this richly variegated work, yet under Sarah Tipple’s witty direction, and with Alex Beetschen’s adroit musical arrangement and Robin Norton Hale’s convincing translation, the drama, if slightly abridged, goes like wildfire.

The overture becomes the cue for a let’s-do-the-show-right-here opening, as the singers dress their set and each other, neatly establishing their characters as they go. And then we’re off.

Everyone has the ring of truth, from Tom Stoddart’s imperious and comically insecure Count to Richard Immergluck’s foxy Figaro, from Sarah Minns’s wilful Susanna to Louisa Tee’s regal Countess; Mary-Jane de Havas’s fruitily-exaggerated Marcellina makes a perfect foil to Henry Grant Kerswell’s giant-haystacks Bartolo.

Meanwhile Felicity Buckland’s Cherubino is a lovely creation, exuding megawatt charm and a commanding sexuality. The singing and playing is of such a high standard that one forgets it’s all done on a shoestring: Cherubino’s love song and the Countess’s ‘Dove sono’ would sound at home in Covent Garden.

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