Utah Arts Review – Even with an ailing lead, Utah Opera’s “Marriage of Figaro” delivers a memorable Mozart evening


Utah Opera offered two Figaros for the price of one Saturday night.

Adam Lau, who plays the title role in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, was unable to sing on opening night due to unspecified illness. So the cover, Zachary Nelson, sang from the side of the stage while Lau acted the part (“walked” does not do justice to Tara Faircloth’s dynamic and highly choreographed stage direction).

Serendipitously, a delightful synergy developed between the two performers over the course of the evening. Lau seemed to draw energy from Nelson’s powerful, expertly shaded singing, while Nelson’s vocal characterization became increasingly fun and engaging in response to Lau’s physical comedy.

Madison Leonard proved masterful in the role of Susanna, the smartest person onstage. Susanna has just one big solo moment, “Deh vieni, non tardar,” which Leonard sang beguilingly. But she also has close interactions with every other major character, and Leonard navigated them all with clarity and ease: playful chemistry with Lau’s Figaro; a sisterly rapport with Katherine Whyte’s Countess, capped by a sublime “Sull’aria”; vocal and physical nimbleness in evading Michael Adams’ Count; broad comedy in her tussle with Nina Yoshida Nelsen’s Marcellina; and camaraderie mingled with exasperation in her handling of Mary Beth Nelson’s Cherubino.


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