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February 13, 2010

This Day in UMS History: New York City Opera , The Marriage of Figaro (Feb 13-15, 1991)

By Paula Muldoon

February 13-15, 1991
Power Center, Ann Arbor

New York City Opera
The Marriage of Figaro
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte

While Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro may be timeless, opera production sure isn’t.  The program notes for this production of Figaro note that the company “features its popular and much-praised supertitles, an innovation in opera that clarifies all of the action onstage while preserving the integrity of the original language libretto.”  Opera plots are complicated enough as it is without having to worry about reading the translations by the dim light in the theatre!  And yet only twenty years ago, that’s exactly what audiences had to do.

The New York City Opera was founded in 1943 and, in addition to opera gems such as Figaro, has a repertoire of 273 works spanning five centuries of music and including 29 world premieres and 61 American and/or New York premieres of such notable works as Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shostakovich’s Katerina Ismailova, Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges and The Flaming Angel, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, and Glass’ Akhnaten.  The company has been a leading showcase for young artists, helping to launch the careers of more than 3,000 singers, including UM alumnus David Daniels, Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, and Beverly Sills.

“This day in UMS History” is an occasional series of vignettes drawn from UMS’s historical archive.   If you have a personal story or particular memory from attending the performance featured here, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.


Paula Muldoon is a UMS Marketing Intern. She recently graduated from the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance with a degree in violin performance.