WMU News

Marriage of Figaro has interesting new twist

March 19, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's famed opera "The Marriage of Figaro" will be performed through March 29 at Western Michigan University with an interesting new twist. The opera, performed in English, will be set in the White House during the Clinton administration.

"The Marriage of Figaro" is a joint production of the WMU School of Music and University Theatre. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays, March 20-22 and 27-29, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 23, at 2 p.m. in the Multiform Theatre of the Gilmore Theatre Complex. Standard admission is $16, with $12 for senior citizens and WMU faculty and staff, and $7 for all students.

An opening night reception sponsored by Epic Bistro will follow the Thursday, March 20, performance. Following the Sunday, March 23, matinee, there will be a post-show discussion with the cast, crew and production team.

"The Marriage of Figaro" premiered in 1786 only by special consent of the emperor for fear that it would cause social unrest. Based on "Le Marriage de Figaro" written by French playwright Beaumarchais in 1778, "The Marriage of Figaro" portrays the story of a servant, Figaro, as a hero outwitting his aristocratic master, which was a fiercely revolutionary concept.

The story further recounts the comic adventures of Figaro that were first introduced in Gioacchino Rossini's opera "The Barber of Seville," which was based on "Le Barbier de Seville" (1775) also written by Beaumarchais. Figaro, who is the principal character in both of the plays and the operas, is a completely original conception by Beaumarchais who drew a portrait of himself in the resourceful adventurer.

"When the opera was first performed, it was an extremely controversial piece of political satire, and by using the Clinton White House as our inspiration, it recreates the controversy of the original production," says Carl Ratner, associate professor of music and director of the production. "And the parallels between the Clinton White House and the content of the opera are fairly obvious.

The cast features voice performance majors Robin Agne, Jeanne Arnett, Joshua Carroll, Kevin Clay, Dan DeRushia, Kelly Dievendorf, Dominic Hester, Kristin Kenning, Julie Kersaan, Gretchen Ross, Courtney Sherman, Erin Smith, Megan Steenhagen, Whitney Wade, and Aaron Wardell; and music theatre performance major Kevin Vaught.

The production team includes seniors Corey Hallwachs, scenic/props designer; Jeremy Ellwood lighting designer; Lesley Sorenson, costume designer; and Staci Schmock, stage manager. Garrylee McCormick serves as the hair/wig designer and Tom Lowry as the make-up designer.

To purchase tickets, call the Gilmore Theatre Complex Ticket Office at (269) 387-6222. Office hours are Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m., and two hours prior to performances. Tickets also may be purchased through the Epic Center Box Office in Downtown Kalamazoo at (269) 387-0402 and at the Crossroads Mall in the WMU Bookstore near the central court.

Media contact: Shauna Thieman, 269 387-6222, shauna.thieman@wmich.edu

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