Every beginning is difficult, especially during a pandemic that has long made gaining practical experience impossible. It is all the more courageous to perform one of the most demanding operas there is under these conditions. The University of the Arts is taking the risk with its first opera production of the year. In cooperation with the costume and stage design courses at the Kunsthochschule Weißensee, the singing/music theater course brings Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” to the stage.

Unfortunately, four singers dropped out during the final rehearsals, which is so important for the coming together of stage and orchestra. Shortly before the premiere, the fifth singer had to cancel, luckily Maria Rüssel from the understudy stepped in for her as Cherubino.

One notices the unfinished state of the evening. For a piece like “Le Nozze di Figaro”, where the ensemble has to rely on each other, any rehearsal failure is fatal. There is therefore little interaction between the singers and the (constantly loud) symphony orchestra of the UdK under Errico Fresis, a lot goes wrong. Why no real harpsichord is used remains a mystery, especially since it is used for onomatopoeic accompaniment. The electronic sounds do not contribute to improving the sound quality.

Isabel Hindersin’s directing concept all too often amounts to unmotivated gestures without clear guidance of the characters. The character “Puck” invented by her is also used inconsistently and does not add any further level of meaning to the plot. What saves the evening is the defiant joy of playing on the part of everyone involved. The singers, most of whom will take their final exams this evening, bring a liveliness to the stage that will hopefully accompany them on their further career path.

Kento Uchiyama is a lively Figaro, and Sungbin Kim excels in vocal and stage presence as Count Almaviva. Laura Albert (Countess Almaviva) has some intonation problems, but embodies her role believably.

The audience in the Uni.T Theater, which was only half occupied due to the corona situation, thanks them with thunderous applause and standing ovations. In terms of vocal technique, all singers certainly still have a long way to go. But there is no question that they will go. A theatrical saying: “A play is never as difficult as it was the first time!”