LA Opera Presents the Marriage of Old and New with ‘¡Figaro! (90210)’

There isn’t a subject more current and topical than immigration reform. There isn’t an Opera more classical than Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” Combine the two by setting the scene of the time-honored operatic masterpiece in modern-day Los Angeles, and you’ve got “¡Figaro! (90210).” The show will be presented by LA Opera’s Off Grand Company at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre January 16-18.

Classics are stories that are timeless. They are stories that are still relevant in society today because they deal with the foibles of human nature and the shortcomings of society. The opera, “The Marriage of Figaro,” is no exception. Mozart’s score is still the centerpiece of the production, but it’s served with an added twist: a libretto completely rewritten by Vid Guerrerio in both English and Spanglish. The concert presentation was hailed as “blasphemous, brilliant… realistically contemporary and timelessly comic” by the New York Times, and the world premiere staging here in Los Angeles promises to deliver with the same gusto.

In 1786, the character of Figaro was living and working in the home of a Count and Countess in Seville, Spain. In the original story, the Count decides he wants to ditch the Countess and woo Figaro’s intended, but is of course thwarted by the end of the day through a series of very comic manipulations. Fast-forward to now. Figaro and his wife-to-be are recast as undocumented Mexican immigrants working in the mansion of a prominent Beverly Hills real estate mogul and his actress wife. The effect is both contemporary and relevant, and gives Angelenos an “in” with the material they may not have had before.

“¡Figaro! (90210)” is being presented as part of Figaro Unbound, a three-month citywide celebration of the character of Figaro. “This character, beloved by generations of opera fans, first delighted audiences as the hero of a series of late 18th-century French stage comedies. Pierre Beaumarchais’ trilogy of Figaro plays—The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro and The Guilty Mother—captured staggering changes in social attitudes.” The opera trilogy, as well as a variety of other adaptations will be presented throughout the second half of LA Opera’s 2014/2015 season.

Off Grand is a banner bestowed upon LA Opera productions that venture outside of the company’s usual home at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. This branch of the company is dedicated to the retelling of classics from the opera canon in new formats, as well as presenting unusual repertoire to Los Angeles audiences while incorporating the diversity prevalent in Los Angeles into their work.

L.A. Opera’s Off Grand Company will present “¡Figaro! (90210)” at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre at the Barnsdall Art Park for three nights only January 16-18. Tickets are available here.