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Marriage of Figaro - Meet the Director

Posted on 19 January 2015

OperaUpClose bring their new adaptation of The Marriage of Figaro to the Belgrade on Wednesday. We had a chat to the production’s Director, Sarah Tipple, who told us a little more about her experience of working on this new adaptation of a well-loved opera.

What drew you to directing The Marriage of Figaro?

It’s a brilliant mixture of comedy and pathos, exploring the very positive and the very negative potential that humans have in the way we treat one another. The music is amazing, and I was really attracted to the challenge of making it work on a small cast and in a variety of great spaces.

Describe the concept of the production to us in a sentence?

The production sets the piece as a play within a play, with a group of modern-day performers putting on a production of the Marriage of Figaro set in the 18th century; we honour the period in which it was written but also highlight how contemporary many of the themes are.

In three words, how might an audience member describe the show to their friends?

Funny, accessible and moving.

Is this adaptation of The Marriage of Figaro for opera buffs or for people who are new to opera?

I’d like to think that it is for both – that we tell the story clearly so you don’t need any prior knowledge of it, but in an interesting enough way that you will still get something from it if you’re a Figaro aficionado. And some of the music will be familiar to people, whether or not they think they know the opera – it has some great, and very popular, tunes!

Talk us through a typical day in the rehearsal room.

It’s as you would imagine I suppose. The singers warm-up individually as everyone has their own routine for getting their voice ready for the day. Then we go over the section we’re looking to stage that day musically first. Once they’ve sung through it, we then talk about the characters and action of the scene – what the characters want, what’s stopping them from getting what they want, and then we try to get the scene on its feet.

You’ve just returned from a visit to the Belgrade Theatre, what did you think of the venue and does it suit the show?

It’s a really beautiful theatre, and really intimate for a space that seats 800. Everyone will have an excellent view and I’m sure it will sound amazing. It will be lovely to have a little more stage space than we did at the King’s Head. It will also be really interesting to see how the piece develops over the tour.

This was your first production for OperaUpClose, how have you found working with the company?

It’s been great. I think the ethos and aims of the company are brilliant, to make opera accessible and affordable, and the work they do is really important for the art form.

What else have you been working on recently?

I’ve just directed The Snow Queen for the Nuffield theatre and am about to revive Anthony Minghella’s production of Madam Butterfly for ENO at Perth Festival, Australia.

The Marriage of Figaro is on the Main Stage on Wednesday 21 January at 7.45pm. Tickets are priced from £17.25 to £24.25, concessions: £2 off. Young Person’s Discount: £5 off.

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