The Marriage of Figaro

The niftiest bit of stagecraft in Seattle Opera’s production of Mozart’s bubbliest comedy is director Peter Kazaras’ decision to make the Act 1-to-Act 2 set change during the Act 1 finale, Figaro’s aria “Non piu andrai.” Figaro, valet to Count Almaviva, is teasing the page Cherubino about being sent to war, and just as the music turns martial, the Countess enters upstage and stares down the philandering Count, neatly suggesting not only their battle to come but that they’ll be equally formidable combatants. At the end of the four minutes of bustle, doors opening and closing and liveried servants pushing chaises lounges into place, the Countess stands alone ready to change the mood completely with her poignant aria “Porgi amor.” Very effective. Not everything works as well in this production, an adaptation of Kazaras’ 2005 staging for the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program. Vocal honors go to the men: Oren Gradus’ effortless boom as Figaro and Mariusz Kwiecien’s compelling suavity as the Count. Darkly vulpine in the title role of SO’s 2007 Don Giovanni, Kwiecien finds a better balance here: imperious yet still sympathetic. Conductor Dean Williamson manages a similar deft balance between elegance and boisterousness, bringing a special bounce to the overture in particular. GAVIN BORCHERT

Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: May 2. Continues through May 16, 2009