State Opera South Australia’s production of Mozart’s much loved opera, The Marriage of Figaro, opens this week at Her Majesty’s Theatre. This modern retelling of Mozart’s slap-stick rom-com will see audiences witnessing the wedding day of Figaro and Susanna, where forbidden crushes are disclosed, revenge plots carried out and secrets revealed! Throw in a handsy boss, a cheating scandal, drunken gardeners, solicitous lawyers, scorned wives and some cheeky bridesmaids, and the perfect day soon erupts into chaos.
Returning home to Adelaide to play the role of The Count, Nicholas Lester spoke to Glam Adelaide about the opera, his career and where his love of music stemmed from.
“My parents both like listening to music. So we would hear a wide mixture of music from pop, rock and through to classical as well. Mum is an amateur violinist and teaches a few pupils, so there was always some form of music around the house.”
“Apart from the music at home, I was lucky that there were some music teachers who were very passionate about music and performing arts at Balaklava Primary and Secondary School. They always advocated for high quality music education and performance opportunities. The local group Balaklava Community Arts (which celebrated a 40th birthday recently) produced high quality productions and this was a regular outlet for me. I learned piano and clarinet for a while, violin very briefly, but stuck with singing in choirs, individually and on stage as well.”
Since completing his studies at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, Nicholas has performed extensively around the world. We asked Nicholas what it feels like to be able to perform once again in Australia, and in his hometown of Adelaide.
“Singing in your home country is special and singing for your local company even more so. Australian artists can do very well abroad professionally given the opportunity. We are lucky that the people at State Opera South Australia are keen to celebrate and showcase talent born and raised locally, so they find opportunities to get us back to perform on home soil. This is so special and I can’t wait to sing for the Adelaide audiences.”
Sate Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro is not the first time Nicholas has performed in this opera. He shared with Glam what it is about this work that he loves so much.
“What’s not to love?! It’s got to be one of the best operas written. It’s based on a revolutionary play that deals with very relevant issues of the mis-use of power and privilege. The way Mozart structured the music was pretty ground-breaking for the time, starting with just a couple of voices then as the sub-plots are revealed raising the tension with a trio, then a quartet, quintet and so on. There’s some incredible music, vocal lines and orchestral writing. Some of the most enjoyable sections to perform are the ensemble numbers.”
Mozart had a magical way of writing music, especially in his operas. The music and orchestrations really become extensions of the characters’ personas.
“I think it’s particularly true of his Da Ponte operas. They have the widest range of drama, humour and pathos, and he really gives the characters an identifiable sound. His ability to poke fun at himself and others is enviable. It would be amazing to see how Mozart might adapt what he’s written for today’s performers and audiences. I think he would love what our director, Nicholas Cannon, did with it!”
This new, re-imagined production of The Marriage of Figaro opens this Thursday at Her Majesty’s Theatre, and Nicholas is excited for audiences to finally see this production.
“They are going to see an incredible display of talent both on and off the stage. There are lots of firsts -– roles and company debuts – being made, and Australian creatives and artists doing what they do best with such grace and panache. I hope this production will entice many South Australians to want to give opera a go and watch an operatic production for the first time. It’s a great one to start with!”
The Marriage of Figaro opens on Thursday 16 November and runs until Saturday 25 November. Further details and tickets can be found at https://stateopera.com.au/productions/the-marriage-of-figaro-2023/ .
Photo credit: Andrew Beveridge
Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre
Season: November 16 – 25, 2023
Tickets: From $67
Read our review of The Marriage Of Figaro HERE .