Fiona Shaw offers Marriage of Figaro

Fiona Shaw is directing the new production of the Marriage of Figaro which is being put on by the English National Opera. Previously, she has done work for the company including The Elegy for Young Lovers by Henze, among others. This production is the first time that the director is entering the mainstream of opera, and her first step into this mainstream seems to not have been as successful as her previous works.

The audience becomes confused by the way the opera jumps through different periods in history. In some scenes it seems they are set in the present day while others are set as early as the 18th century. Rather than be effective this just serves to confuse the audience.

The set has been designed by Peter McIntosh and this is also a very confusing part of the opera. The costumes in the play are designed by Georgia O’Keeffe and in one scene it seems they are from Spain in the 18th century but in another scene people are wearing modern clothes.

The relationship between the Count played by Roland Wood and Figaro who is played by Iain Patterson is insightful and Shaw has done a very good job of bringing this relationship to the forefront. She highlights the sexual insecurities felt by these characters, and the way they gang up on Cherubino is very well portrayed.

The masculine aggression of the characters is overstated by Shaw. This is not the real problem in the production. The confusing set and endless use of extras adds nothing to the production and just serves to distract the audience from the main action.