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'Figaro' never fails to delight

"THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO," Paradigm Chamber Orchestra and Utah Lyric Opera Ensemble, Libby Gardner Concert Hall, University of Utah, Feb. 13.

The Paradigm Chamber Orchestra and the University of Utah's Lyric Opera Ensemble have collaborated several times over the past few years. It's been a successful partnership for the two organizations, and they joined forces once again this past weekend, this time in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro."

A true comic opera, "Figaro" never fails to delight its audiences, whether it's presented as a fully staged opera or, in this case, in an abbreviated concert version.

Even though about half of the opera had been cut for this performance, including all of the choruses, most of the recitatives and a large number of arias and ensembles, the thread of the story wasn't lost. That was due in part to the acting and singing talents of the soloists and in part to Lyric Opera Ensemble director Robert Breault, who narrated between the musical numbers.

The singers were all wonderful and did justice to their respective roles. Many of the roles were double cast. At Saturday's performance, the audience was treated to the vocal talents of principals Michael Chipman (Count); Valaura Arnold (Countess); Rachel Hales (Susanna); Matthew Castleton (Figaro); and Renee Hussey (Cherubino).

Particularly noteworthy was Chipman's interpretation of the count's big Act 3 recitative and aria "Hai gi?vinta la causa!...Vedr?mentr'io sospiro," which he sang with dramatic conviction. Also wonderful was Arnold's singing of the tender arias "Porgi amor" in Act 2 and "Dove sono" in Act 3."

Among the other singers, Hussey was in fine form in "Voi, che sapete," from Act 2, as was Courtney Camp, as Barbarina, in the delightfully sweet Act 4 cavatina "L'ho perduta, me meschina."

Rounding out the cast were Laura Adair as Marcellina; Timothy Carter as Bartolo; Zachary Milliman as Basilio and Don Curzio; and John Kovalenko as Antonio.

Joel Rosenberg conducted, and he elicited playing from his orchestra that was cleanly phrased and well articulated and executed.