Opera in brief: Musica Viva’s “Le Nozze di Figaro”, Hong Kong, 20-21 September

(Wikimedia Commons) (Wikimedia Commons)

Hong Kong’s Musica Viva has incrementally moved from one full opera production per year—in December—to two. If this recent production of Mozart’s comic masterpiece is any indication, the smaller production in late September featuring entirely local singers has, over the past couple of years, matured and is hitting its stride.

These productions have tended to concentrate on the lighter side of the repertoire—the past two years have featured comic operas by Gaetano Donizetti. Le Nozze di Figaro, while a comedy, is not necessarily funny: it runs considerably longer and, Mozart being Mozart, lends itself to multiple interpretations. The work was here abridged to just about two hours and the cast, particularly a perky Phoebe Tam as the maid Susanna, tilted the performance toward the humor. Oscar Droscha’s Count Almaviva had the wandering eye (and hands) that the role demands, but was not the irredeemably odious character he can sometimes be.

Musica Viva’s productions often have good chemistry—ensemble performances where the whole is greater than the mere sum of the parts—and this Marriage of Figaro followed the pattern. But even ensemble performances can deliver up individual surprises: soprano Vicki Wu lit up the stage in the small part of Barberina. She will be a singer worth watching.

Peter Gordon contributed subtitles and programme notes for this production.