Students in UC Santa Barbara’s Opera Theater Program were met with standing
ovations and enthusiastic cheers of appreciation this weekend at two packed
performance of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro).

The comedic opera showcased the talents of many of the Voice Program’s top
graduate students who are studying under renowned faculty members such as
Linda Di Fiore and Isabel Bayrakdarian, who was stage director for the
production.

 Scott Levin, left, as Doctor Bartolo and Molly Clementz as Marcellina. (Photo by Matt Perko)  

 Scott Levin, left, as Doctor Bartolo and Molly Clementz as Marcellina. (Photo by Matt Perko)

 

Ben Brecher, who heads the Voice Program, was producer and music director.
And Opera Santa Barbara’s artistic director Kosti Protopapas served as
conductor.

The four-act opera, which premiered in Vienna in 1786, weaves a light-hearted
narrative of love and forgiveness, while exploring tensions among the social
classes and between the sexes.

Byron Mayes, playing Figaro and Naomi Merer playing Susanna. (Photo by Matt Perko)

Byron Mayes, playing Figaro and Naomi Merer playing Susanna. (Photo by Matt Perko)

Julie Davies as Countess Almaviva wowed audiences in her spectacular Act III
aria “Dove soni Bei Momenti (Where of the Good Moment”), eliciting long
applause after lamenting her lecherous husband’s cruelty, yet professing her
continuing love for him.

In Act IV, Tyler Reece as her husband the Count, sang about the wicked and
deceitful ways of women - though he himself was guilty of sexual indiscretion -
until he finally begs forgiveness from his wife.

The stellar cast also featured Naomi Merer as Susanna, Byron Mayes as Figaro,
Kelly Newberry as Cherubino, Molly Clementz as Marcellina, Zach Mendez as
Don Curzio/Basilio, Carol Tsai as Barbarina, and Cloe Gentile as a chorus
member, and Opera Santa Barbara’s Scott Levin as Bartolo. Several
undergraduates performed in the chorus.

Tyler Reece in the role of Count Almaviva (Photo by Matt Perko)

Tyler Reece in the role of Count Almaviva (Photo by Matt Perko)

In addition to their excellent vocal performances, the troupe’s top notch acting
and comedic timing had audiences roaring with laughter. The libretto’s themes
seemed to resonate with today’s audience, striking a familiar chord at a time
when sexual harassment and the #metoo campaign is in the news, and adding
to the knowing groans and chuckles among patrons in the Lotte Lehmann
concert hall.

Taking their curtain call Thursday evening were (left to right ) Naomi Merer (Susanna}, Isabel Bayrakdarian(Stage Director), Byron Mayes (Figaro), Kostis Protopapas (Conductor), Benjamin Brecher (Music Director/Producer), Julie Davis (Countess Almaviva), Ben Crop (Lighting Designer) and Tyler Reece (Count Almaviva).  (Photo by Timothy Teague)

Taking their curtain call Thursday evening were (left to right ) Naomi Merer (Susanna}, Isabel Bayrakdarian(Stage Director), Byron Mayes (Figaro), Kostis Protopapas (Conductor), Benjamin Brecher (Music Director/Producer), Julie Davis (Countess Almaviva), Ben Crop (Lighting Designer) and Tyler Reece (Count Almaviva).  (Photo by Timothy Teague)