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Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" is an opera for opera lovers. With four acts unraveling over three-plus hours, it's lengthy by today's entertainment standards. But the composer gifted it with some of the best music ever written, and in that way, it is timeless. It doesn't need to be updated, relocated or concentrated.

Opera Colorado's production is big on costumes and voices, but sticks to the basics, which is a welcome non-turn of events for a Valentine's-week "Figaro." Sung in Italian, this a romantic piece at heart — though romance among the aristocracy of late-18th-century Spain apparently included lots of sex, intrigue and the birthright of certain counts to sleep with certain women who happened to be engaged to a guy named Figaro.

In the opera buffa tradition, it has laughs, but there's an edge here. You never know who might be assaulted, shamed, caught in the act or sent off to the war front. In those days, the aristocracy could do that, too.

"It's lighthearted but has the possibility of going to a very dark place," said director David Gately .

Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte based their work on a play by Pierre Beaumarchais and premiered it in Vienna in 1786. The plot is convoluted, farcical at times (this opera may have invented the notion that people hide from their lover's lovers in closets) and pits the valet Figaro against his employer Count Almaviva in a race to see who will have their way with the beautiful Susanna.

That Figaro and Susanna are hours away from marriage or that the count already is married keep things interesting. The women are smart in this story and work deviously to control their own destinies.

Gately is returning to Opera Colorado after directing Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" in 2009. "Barber" is a prequel to "Figaro" with the same characters, and Gately believes he has figured out the right tone for the piece.

"If you keep the lighthearted light, the serious becomes even more serious," he said.

Singers for the production include Italian baritone Simone Alberghini as Figaro. He sang here last in 2007 in "The Elixir of Love." Soprano Ava Pine debuts here as Susanna.

Rounding out the cast: Keith Phares as Count Almaviva and Twyla Robinson as the Countess Almaviva, and Patricia Risley in the "pants role" of Cherubino, the teenage boy who falls for the countess.

Ray Mark Rinaldi: 303-954-1540 or rrinaldi@denverpost.com

 

"THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO." Opera Colorado presents W.A. Mozart's masterpiece at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 14th and Curtis streets. Starring Simone Alberghini, Ava Pine, Twyla Robinson and Keith Phares. Tickets are $20-$165. Buy them at operacolorado.org or 800-928-2787.