The Marriage of Figaro

Mozart's The Marriage of FIgaro

Friday, February 10, 2017 at 7:30pm & Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 2pm

Pre-Opera Talk begins one Hour before each performance in the Main Lobby of The Valentine Theatre

Student Night at the Opera Performance on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 7pm

The Historic Valentine Theatre - Conducted by James Meena - Directed by Garnett Bruce

The first of the three masterpieces created by the collaboration between composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, The Marriage of Figaro is also the second play by Beaumarchais' "Figaro" trilogy. Count Almaviva and Rosina, for The Barber of Seville, are now married but the Count continues to pursue Susannah, the Countess's maid and the fiancée of his servant Figaro. In a fun and touching journey of both heartbreak and humor, love conquers all in this supreme masterpiece of opera. Soprano Laquita Mitchell, who last wowed Toledo audiences in the title role of Porgy and Bess, will return as the Countess in a traditional production sure to captivate audiences.

Co-Sponsors of The Marriage of Figaro




Le Nozze di Figaro

The Marriage of Figaro

By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Libretto by Lorenza Da Ponte

Setting: Seville, Spain in the 18th Century

Three years after The Barber of Seville, we witness “a crazy day” in the Almaviva household. Figaro intends to marry Susanna; however, Dr. Bartolo is seeking revenge against his adversary for having thwarted his own marriage to Rosina, who is now the Countess. Meanwhile, the Count is now trying to obtain the favors of Figaro’s bride-to-be, constantly delaying the wedding plans to assert his “Master’s rights” of enjoying the first night with any newly married woman in his service.

Acts I & II

Figaro is measuring where the bridal bed will fit in their new quarters even though Susanna is bothered by the room’s proximity to the Count’s chambers. Once Figaro is alerted to the threat, he vows to outwit his master. Dr. Bartolo and Marcellina appear to present the case that Figaro had agreed to marry Marcellina if he didn’t repay a debt he owes her. But the legal matter only lightly masks Dr. Bartolo’s vendetta against Figaro. The page boy Cherubino needs Susanna’s help as the Count found Cherubino flirting with the gardener’s daughter, Barbarina, and has threatened to banish him from the estate – so he pleads with Susanna to have the Countess intervene with the Count on his behalf. Cherubino reveals his affection for the Countess just as the Count enters, forcing the boy to hide. As the Count tries to seduce Susanna, the music master Don Basilio interrupts, forcing the Count to hide as well. Susanna feigns illness to get the men to leave, to no avail. When Cherubino is discovered, the Count assumes scandal. Only the arrival of Figaro and the rest of the servants prevents the boy from being harmed. The wedding is delayed until the afternoon, and Cherubino is ordered immediately to begin training with the regiment in Seville.

As the Countess laments her husband’s infidelity, Figaro has a plan to humiliate the Count and force a reconciliation with the Countess. Susanna and the Countess secretly hope to keep Cherubino another day by disguising him as a peasant girl, but the Count interrupts their charade, forcing the boy to hide in the Countess’ boudoir. The Count (who has just heard malicious gossip about his wife) is suspicious, even as the Countess maintains it is merely Susanna trying on her wedding gown. He threatens to expose his wife’s adultery and demands access to the culprit. When the Countess refuses, he escorts her to find tools to break down the door, locking both Susanna and Cherubino in the bedroom. Cherubino sees no other escape than leaping out the window while Susanna takes his place in the boudoir. When the Count returns to find out who is hiding, he is as surprised as the Countess when Susanna walks out. Figaro bursts in announcing everyone is ready for the wedding, but now the Count interrogates his valet about the adulterous gossip. Everything seems to be cleared up when Antonio, the gardener, storms in furious that “men are now being tossed out windows” destroying his gardens below. The Count’s jealousy renewed, Figaro takes the blame – and when Cherubino’s commission to the army is revealed to have fallen out in the escapade, the women alert Figaro it has been neither signed nor sealed properly. The Count is only too happy to now accept Marcellina’s petition and postpones the wedding once again so the case against Figaro may be heard.

Acts III & IV

The Count tries to sort out his confusion when Susanna appears and teases him by arranging a secret meeting with him after the wedding. She hopes her “willingness” to give the Count what he wants will sway the judgement about Marcellina’s claim. As part of Figaro’s plan, the Countess will keep the rendezvous, disguised as Susanna. The Count smells fraud and vows to ruin Figaro’s happiness, assuring his own. Don Curzio presides over the hearing between Marcellina and Figaro. Dr. Bartolo successfully argues that without full and immediate payment of the debt, Figaro must marry Marcellina. Figaro counters he is actually of noble birth and cannot marry without his parents’ consent – though he has never known who they are. Just in case, the Countess has lent Susanna the necessary payment for Figaro’s debt; however, Susanna is stunned by what she sees when she enters the proceedings. Alone, the Countess renews her courage to regain her marriage, her happiness, and her husband. With Susanna’s help, she drafts a love note, sealed with a pin, that confirms Susanna’s rendezvous that night. The servant girls arrive to pay tribute to the bride-to-be, with an additional familiar face amongst them: Cherubino. However, Antonio reveals the pageboy to the Count, but now Barbarina deftly deflects the Count’s wrath, reminding everyone of his overtures to her. The Wedding March begins, and Figaro’s wish comes true.

Susanna’s note to the Count came with an instruction: return the pin as a sign he accepts the invitation. The Count has entrusted this task to Barbarina who has just lost it. But, Figaro and Marcellina find a solution – only now Figaro suspects his wife will indeed have a rendezvous with the Count (because he was not part of the note-writing scenario). Marcellina knows better and warns Susanna. Dr. Bartolo and Don Basilio try to console Figaro, to no avail. He rants about the foolishness of men who actually trust women, himself now included in that cuckolded community. The ladies arrive to set the trap for the Count. Susanna has a moment to celebrate the beauty of the evening and the vivid anticipation of her wedding night. As she and the Countess switch places (unnoticed by Figaro), Cherubino arrives and decides to flirt with the woman he assumes is Susanna. The Count tries to prove his dedication to Susanna (the Countess in disguise), bestowing a ring on her. Hearing Figaro nearby, the rendez-vous is delayed. Now, Susanna (disguised as the Countess) catches the jealous Figaro in the garden. She never suspects he sees through her disguise, so when he makes lewd overtures, she berates him, weeping. Only then does Figaro confess. But, because the disguise is so convincing, Figaro continues to seduce the (false) Countess. The Count summons his household to witness his wife’s faithless betrayal. He soon becomes aware of a number of eavesdroppers in the Garden: Cherubino, Barbarina, Marcellina, and his deceitful wife. Only once the actual Countess appears is the true deceit clear. Begging his wife’s forgiveness, the Count and Countess are reconciled. Figaro and Susanna encourage everyone to celebrate their wedding, and more, their love.

Kyle Pfortmiller, bass-baritone (Count Almaviva)

Kyle Pfortmiller has employed his unique talent in opera, operetta, and musical theatre from the contemporary to the classic.  His repertoire includes the title roles in Don Giovanni and Il barbiere di Siviglia; as well as Valentin (Faust); Eisenstein (Die Fledermaus); Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro); Silvio (Pagliacci); Count Carl Magnus Malcolm (A Little Night Music); Henry Higgins (My Fair Lady); Billy Bigelow (Carousel); Pierre/Red Shadow (The Desert Song); Hajj, the Poet (Kismet); and, Fred/Petruchio (Kiss Me Kate). He made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Marquis d’Obigny in the new production of La traviata directed by Willy Decker during the 2010-2011 season.  He has also been heard at the Met in roles in Capriccio, Andre Chenier, and Nico Muhly’s Two Boys, as well as La traviata in 2011, 2012, and 2014. Some of his most recent performances include the title role of Rigoletto with Opera in Williamsburg, his role debut as Pizarro (Fidelio) with Opera Carolina, his festival debut with Prototype Festival (NYC) in the World Premiere of Du Yun & Royce Vavrek’s Angel’s Bone and his company, and role debut with Nashville Opera as Dr. Falke (Die Fledermaus). Upcoming performances include Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with Oswego Opera, a role and company debut with Opera Memphis as Enrico in Donizetti's Il campanello di note, and a return to Chautauqua Opera as Malatesta (Don Pasquale). Le nozze di Figaro marks Mr. Pfortmiller’s company debut with Toledo Opera.

Laquita Mitchell, soprano (Countess Rosina)

Soprano Laquita Mitchell consistently earns acclaim on eminent international opera and concert stages. This season she will sing in One River, One Land, One People by Hannibal Lokumbe with Maestro Yannick Nezet-Seguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra, sing with Traverse City Symphony as Bess in Porgy and Bess, with Arizona Opera in a gala concert, and with Sheboygan Symphony’s concert “Passion Part Two: Music from the Heart.” Ms. Mitchell appeared in Toledo as Bess in last year’s Porgy and Bess. In recent engagements, she joined Beth Morrison Projects and NPR for a production and recording of David Lang’s The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (Virginia Creeper); performed Strauss’ Four Last Songs in Classical Roots: A Tribute to Jessye Norman with Detroit Symphony Orchestra; sang a special Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert with Philadelphia Orchestra; sang the soprano solo in Verdi’s Requiem at Waterbury Symphony; sang in two recitals with Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, performing works by Samuel Barber, John Carter and Lee Hoiby; sang Elijah with Princeton Music Festival; and was a featured soloist in a Gala Concert with Jerry Steichen and Friends in Tonkawa, OK.

Angela Theis, soprano (Susanna)

Rising soprano Angela Theis has captivated the attention of audiences and critics alike, described by The Boston Globe as "bright, bold, and beguiling." This season, she makes her debut with Toledo Opera and returns to her hometown Michigan Opera Theatre as Beth in the upcoming production of Little Women. As a perennial favorite of Michigan Opera Theatre, she has performed Frasquita (Carmen), Papagena (Pamina cover) (The Magic Flute), Laurie (The Tender Land), Yvette (The Passenger), the High Priestess (Aïda), Marzelline (Fidelio), and Barbarina (Le nozze di Figaro). Around the country, opera credits include Clorinda (La Cenerentola) and Frasquita (Carmen) (Opera Roanoke), Adina (L’elisir d’amore) and Mabel (Pirates of Penzance) (Eugene Opera), Johanna (Sweeney Todd) (Syracuse Opera), and Beth (Little Women) and the Dew Fairy (Hansel and Gretel) (Utah Opera). She has been honored with numerous grants and awards, most notably as a fellow to study under soprano Barbara Bonney at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg in Austria. Ms. Theis is an original member of the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio, where she is currently in her second year as the soprano resident artist.

Darren K. Stokes, bass-baritone (Figaro)

American bass-baritone Darren K. Stokes is an artist of exceptional vocal ability and has sung with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati May Festival, Boston Lyric Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Washington National Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, San Francisco Opera, the Ravinia Festival, Opera Memphis, San Antonio Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, San Francisco Opera, Eugene Opera. On the operatic mainstage, Mr. Stokes has performed Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro), Calkas (Troilus and Cressida), Ferrando (Il Trovatore), General Groves (Dr. Atomic), Mèphistophélès ( Faust), Escamillo (Carmen and Le Tragedie de Carmen), Jake & Crown (Porgy and Bess), and Neptune (The Return of Ulysses), among many others. Important additions by way of principal role covers include Queequeg in the World Premiere of Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick for Dallas Opera and Crown (Porgy and Bess) for Seattle Opera. On the concert stage, he has performed the Messiah, Rachmaninoff Bells, Mozart’s Requiem and Salieri in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri with Buffalo Philharmonic. Last season, Mr. Stokes sang in the highly praised Porgy and Bess for Toledo Opera and this season will make his New York City Opera debut.


Catherine Hancock, soprano (Cherubino)

Soprano Catherine Hancock was born in the British Channel Islands and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia before moving to New York City.  She works closely with countless New York based ensembles and companies, and her performances range from opera to chamber music and concert repertoire. Recent career highlights include performances at BAM, MoMA, Alice Tully Hall, and with The Mark Morris Dance Group, The New York Festival of Song, and The New York Electroacoustic Music Festival. She also recently made her European debut singing the roles of Valletto and Pallade (L’incoronazione di Poppea) under the baton of Richard Egarr at the Snape Malting Proms as a Britten-Pears young artist. Favorite opera performances include the roles of Orindo in Cavalli’s La Doriclea, Lucia in Hindemith’s The Long Christmas Dinner and Valletto in L’incoronazione di Poppea, and noted concert performances include Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and String Quartet No. 2, Berio's Sequenza, Kurtag’s Kafka-Fragmente, and Ravel’s Chansons madécasses.  Catherine is particularly passionate about early music and contemporary repertoire and has established herself in both of these areas. 

Alta Dantzler, mezzo-soprano (Marcellina)

Alta Dantzler is an active performer of opera and concert works, having appeared as a soloist at venues around the country including Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. She has spent six seasons with the Ohio Light Opera – the only company in the U.S. devoted exclusively to the preservation of operetta. She can be heard on many cast recordings on both the Operetta Archives and Albany Records labels where she most recent recorded the role of Princess Marghanza in John Philip Sousa’s comic opera El Capitan. Alta holds degrees from Skidmore College, the Eastman School of Music, and The University of Texas at Austin. She is on the voice and theatre faculty at Oakland University.

Jason Budd, bass (Bartolo)

Jason Budd recently made his South American debut as the title character in Verdi's Falstaff with Theatro São Pedro in São Paulo, Brazil. His performances have garnered praise all over the globe, particularly in his specialty, the buffo roles. Other recent engagements include the title role in Britten's Noyes Fludde with Fremont Opera, Falstaff (The Merry Wives of Windsor) and Kecal (The Bartered Bride) both with Boston Midsummer Opera, Bartolo (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) with Opera Western Reserve and Bartolo (Le Nozze di Figaro) with Cleveland Opera Theater, and performances in Detroit, Toledo, Maine, and California. Last summer, he returned to Boston Midsummer Opera for their double bill of Donizetti’s Il Campanello and L’Amico Fritz. Jason returns to Boston this summer as Doctor Dulcamara (The Elixir of Love).

Nicholas Nestorak, tenor (Basilio)

Nicholas Nestorak is emerging as a tenor to watch after successful engagements in US regional opera companies. This season, Nestorak débuts at Opera Carolina as Gastone (La traviata, and will return later in the season as Trin (La fanciulla del West). This season also holds a performance as Ali (Zemire et Azor) for Skylight Music Theatre, and a solo recital in Hillsdale, Michigan. Last season, he delighted audiences as Tobias in Stephen Sondheim’s gruesome favorite, Sweeney Todd, at the Glimmerglass Festival after débuting there as Monastatos (Die Zauberflöte) the season before. Elsewhere last season, Nestorak appeared in the title role of Albert Herring and Jupiter in Semele at Opera MODO; and as Lord Geoffrey in The Picture of Dorian Gray at Opera Fayetteville.

Brian Skoog, tenor (Don Curzio)

Toledo Resident Artist, Brian Skoog, hails from Birmingham, Alabama and is now based in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was recently acclaimed for his portrayal of Tamino (The Magic Flute) with Opera Circle Cleveland. He has also appeared as Jenik (The Bartered Bride)Goro (Madama Butterfly)and Ruiz (Il trovatore). In the summer of 2016, Skoog was featured on Cleveland Opera Theater’s summer concert series, Opera for All. Mr. Skoog received his Master’s Degree and Professional Studies Certificate from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he performed many leading roles including Tamino, Tito (La clemenza di Tito), Oronte (Alcina), and The Witch (Hänsel und Gretel). Mr. Skoog has also been widely praised for his oratorio and concert work across the United States. 

Anna Valcour, soprano (Barbarina)

Toledo Resident Artist, Anna Valcour’s recent opera credits include Bastienne (Bastien und Bastienne) with The Dallas Opera Educational Young Artist Program, Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) and Valencienne (Die lustige Witwe) with UNT Opera. Ms. Valcour was a semi-finalist in the Orpheus Vocal Competition in 2014 and a national finalist in the Franco-American Vocal Academy Grand Concours de Chant Competition in 2012. Ms. Valcour holds degrees from Lawrence University and the University of North Texas. 

Brent Smith, bass (Antonio)

Acclaimed by Opera News as a “standout,” young American bass, Brent Michael Smith, is a rising star whose rich voice and charming persona have attracted the attention of companies across the United States. Brent returns to Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) as a Resident Artist for the 2016-17’ season. His roles at MOT this season include: Zuniga (Carmen), the British Major in the Pulitzer Prize winning opera, Silent Night, by Kevin Puts, Friedrich Bhaer (Little Women), Ashby (La fanciulla del West) and Le Bresaille in David DiChiera’s Cyrano. In 2015, Brent sang Harry Hopkins in the world premiere of Daron Hagen’s A Woman in Morocco, as a part of Kentucky Opera’s American Opera Initiative. Brent has also been a young artist with Sarasota Opera, Central City Opera, and Des Moines Metro Opera where Colorado Music Buzz praised him for “making the most of his brief appearances” as Billy Jackrabbit (La fanciulla del West).

James Meena, Conductor

Toledo Opera’s principal artistic advisor consistently earns critical acclaim for his artistic vision and dynamic presence on the podium.  Mo. Meena¹s guest conducting engagements have included the Washington Opera; the Pittsburgh Opera; L’Opera de Montreal; Michigan Opera Theater; Arizona Opera; the KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, South Korea; the National Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of China; the Pittsburgh Symphony; the Cairo Philharmonic in Egypt; the Grand Rapids Symphony; the Toledo Symphony; the Orchestra of the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Sicily; and, the Orchestra Regionale Toscana in Florence, Italy.  This season, he opened the New York City Opera season with the historic double bill of Rachmaninov’s Aleko and Pagliacci, as well as his Memphis Symphony Classics debut, and his return to L’Opera de Montreal for La Bohème.  For more than a decade, he was principal conductor for the Toledo Opera, resident conductor of the Toledo Symphony, and conductor for the Cleveland/San Jose Ballet.  Mo. Meena has conducted legendary singers Renee Fleming, Denyce Graves, James McCracken, Diana Soviero, Mignon Dunn, Marilyn Horne, Sherril Milnes, Jerome Hines, and Marcello Giordani.


Garnett Bruce, Stage Director

Garnett Bruce has a rich body of work which includes opera companies across the country such as the Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, and Houston Grand Opera, and his European opera debut staging Turandot for the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples. From 2008–2011 he was the Artistic Adviser and Principal Stage Director for Opera Omaha, where he led a cycle of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas. Beginning in 2004 he led three productions as a guest artist at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, receiving a continuing faculty appointment in 2006 and thereafter leading productions including La TraviataThe Rake's Progress, and—this season—The Abduction from the Seraglio. Mr. Bruce has also had a long association with Aspen Music Festival and School since 1993 and the opera directing faculty since 1997.

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