Saturday, April 25, 2009

Archie Drake grows through FIGARO

One of the unusual things about Le nozze di Figaro is how the opera calls for multiples of the same voice type. Our Marcellina, Joyce Castle, is a mezzo soprano; but the part can be sung by soprano, as can all the other female characters (Susanna, Barbarina, and the Countess). And apart from Basilio/Curzio, a tenor, the other male parts are written for bass-baritone--although nowadays the Count is usually played by a lyric baritone.

Like many of us who return to a great masterpiece such as Le nozze di Figaro again and again throughout our lives, Archie Drake grew along the line of Figaro basses. Archie, who sang thousands of performances at Seattle Opera between his debut (Rocco in Fidelio in 1968) and his final role at the age of 80 (the Doctor in Macbeth in 2006), played Figaro early on in his career:



He then went on to play Figaro's father, the irascible Dr. Bartolo:



And finally, in the 90s and 00s, Figaro's uncle-in-law-to-be, the crochety old gardner Antonio:

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