©Portland Opera/Cory Weaver
By Bob Hicks
Mr. Scatter is just getting around to letting you know that he and Mrs. Scatter joined the opening-night throng on Friday for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte‘s opera buffa The Marriage of Figaro, based on Pierre Beaumarchais‘ stage comedy of the same name, at Portland Opera. (It also happened to be opening night of PO’s 2011-12 season, which might have accounted for the slightly larger than usual sprinkling of formal dress amid the usual Oregon mackinaws and mucklucks. Mr. Scatter marked the occasion by changing out of his jeans into semi-creased khakis and slinging on a quilt-lined country walking sportjacket, much to the dazzlement of his eternal bride, whose comments on his sartorial attentiveness ordinarily run along the lines of “There’s a hole in your T-shirt.”)
Please forgive Mr. S’s sloth in filing his report. Could be he dilly-dallied because he didn’t really have much to add to the excellent summations of the mainline critics, James McQuillen in The Oregonian and James Bash at Oregon Music News. Mr. S agrees with McQuillen that this is very much a traditional production. It reminds him of the hoary theater joke: “Did you hear about the radical new Hamlet? They did it in Elizabethan dress.” He also concedes that the original satire (Beamarchais’ 1778 play was banned for several years for its biting depiction of the ruling classes, not reaching the stage until 1784, just two years before the opera) has lost a few of its teeth in the ensuing centuries. Still, if the guffaws of the twentysomethings sitting behind the Scatters are any indication, the comedyÂ remains fresh and ribald and (Mr. S hesitates to use this purportedly naughty word for fear of being drummed out of the League of Tough Guy Arts Observers) entertaining. While there can be and have been highly successful radical takes on The Marriage of Figaro, when what you’re dealing with happens to be a work of comic genius, traditional isn’t such a bad thing to be. This is known in some circles as If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It.