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The Wilmington Concert Association offered its second presentation of the season at Kenan Auditorium on the UNCW campus. This was Mozart’s masterpiece The Marriage of Figaro, an opera that never loses its magnificence and its appeal. It was presented by the Teatro Lirico D’Europa a group that has performed widely in Europe during the past 25 years. Since 2000 they have toured in the U.S. as well.
Kenan Auditorium is, unfortunately, not the ideal place to produce opera; it is, however, nearly the only suitable locale in Wilmington. The acoustics are dry, which dampened the resonance of the singers. The pit is not large enough to comfortably accommodate a full orchestra. The conductor used pragmatic placement of instruments to make the ensemble as full as possible, but the small string section was consistently overbalanced by the winds and brass. Periodic lack of rhythmic precision in the orchestra may have been the result of the unusual physical placement.
Despite significant drawbacks, there was much to enjoy. Ashley Bell as Susanna and Melliangee Perez as the Countess were highly expressive in their letter duet. Stefano de Peppo as Figaro portrayed the shifting moods and antics of the fourth act compellingly. Pedro Quiralte Gomez convincingly portrayed the vicissitudes of the hapless Count in that act as well. As a group the singers shone particularly in the ensemble numbers. There the issue of resonance seemed to be overcome and the ensembles brought forth tone and dramatic conviction. The great Act III sextet was a high point of the evening.
The Wilmington Concert Association, now over 80 years old, brings some of the finest music of each season to Wilmington. The town doesn’t see much live opera, and it was wonderful that the Association brought music lovers here the opportunity to experience Mozart’s great comedy of human nature, with its surpassing lyricism and drama, direct from the stage.