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¡Figaro! (90210)

Overview

The debate over immigration reform takes center stage in this multi-cultural adaptation of Mozart’s masterpiece. ¡Figaro! (90210) recasts the title character as an undocumented worker in a present-day Beverly Hills mansion. Mozart’s score is showcased with an entirely new English (and Spanglish) libretto by Vid Guerrerio.

LA Opera’s world premiere staging follows New York concert presentations hailed as “blasphemous, brilliant… realistically contemporary and timelessly comic” (New York Times).

¡Figaro! (90210) was previously developed in a reading by Morningside Opera in New York City.

Schedule

There are currently no upcoming performances.

Performances of ¡Figaro! (90210) will take place at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, at the Barnsdall Art Park.

4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027

Cast

Creative Team

* LA Opera debut artist
++ Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program alumnus

Synopsis

Setting: the house and grounds of Paul Conti’s luxurious Beverly Hills estate
Time: the present

Act One
Scene One

Figaro, a Mexican handyman, is measuring a room in an empty pool house that has been turned into a studio apartment. His exuberant Mexican fiancée Susana enters with her mother’s wedding veil. She is dismayed to learn that their employer, real estate magnate Paul Conti, has offered the apartment to them as a wedding gift; Conti has been hinting that if she agrees to sleep with him, he will protect her from being deported.

Soon-Yi Nam, a fierce Korean businesswoman, enters with Babayan, her Armenian heavy. Soon-Yi had brought Susana across the border to work in her factory for two years; after Susana worked there for one year, Figaro had promised Soon-Yi that he would pay off the debt for the rest. Soon-Yi intends to collect; the two women trade insults before the older woman storms out.

Bernard (an aspiring hip-hop artist who goes by Li’l B-Man), an African-American teenager whose mother Donna Curson is Conti’s personal assistant, darts into the pool house to see Susana. Conti had caught the youth with his daughter Barbara, and now threatens to send him away to military school, a plan that his mother wholeheartedly endorses. Conti is heard nearby, so Li’l B-Man hides behind a chair. Conti enters the room, pleased to find Susana apparently alone.

When Basel—Barbara Conti’s SAT tutor and Susana’s English teacher—approaches, Susana doesn’t want to be caught in a compromising position with her boss. She pushes Conti behind the chair as Li’l B-Man, unseen, darts to the front. Susana covers him with her wedding dress. Basel encourages Susana to take advantage of what Conti has offered her. In passing, he also mentions a rumor that Conti’s wife Roxanne has given Li’l B-Man $10,000 to record a single.

Furious to hear this, Conti steps out from his hiding place. He recounts how, just moments ago, he heard noises from his daughter Barbara’s bedroom, where he found Li’l B-Man hiding under the bed linens. Demonstrating how he uncovered the youth, he pulls Susana’s wedding dress from the chair. Once again, Li’l B-Man is revealed, to Conti’s enormous surprise.

The situation is interrupted by Figaro, who has gathered the other domestic workers in the household to thank Conti for his kindness toward the undocumented; Figaro takes the opportunity to pointedly reiterate, in front of everyone, that Conti has promised to get a visa for Susana without expecting anything in return. Figaro also secretly promises to help out Li’l B-Man, while outwardly celebrating his military future.

Scene Two
Conti’s wife Roxanne, a former Hollywood starlet, feels neglected and trapped in her marriage. She tells Susana that her pre-nuptial agreement specifies that without proof of cheating, the spouse who files for divorce would get nothing. She is willing to loan Figaro the money he needs to pay off Soon-Yi Nam, but her husband has frozen her accounts.

While her father is at lunch in Brentwood, Barbara Conti brings Li’l B-Man into the room. The women ask him to sing the song that has caused Roxanne so much trouble. It’s a love song to Barbara, who is mortified by its vulgarity. Roxanne reads the admission forms for Li’l B-Man’s new school; she notices that his mother hasn’t yet signed the parental permission. Susana plans to sneak him into her wedding, and goes out to find the dress she has made for him. Left alone with Roxanne, he starts to take his shirt off in preparation for the disguise. Conti unexpectedly knocks on the locked door; Li’l B-Man hides in the closet, but Conti can hear that someone is inside. Roxanne swears that it’s Susana, but Conti doesn’t believe her. He leads Roxanne out, to find the master key, and locking the bedroom door behind them.

Susana, who had ducked into the room moments earlier, hurries to the closet and urges Li’l B-Man to jump out the window. When the Contis return, Susana emerges from the closet, seeming to prove Roxanne’s word. The arrival of the gardener Atzuko, who saw a young black man jump into the garden from the window, seems to destroy her credibility, but Figaro claims that he himself was the jumper, and that Atzuko is too stoned to tell the difference. Conti sees Li’l B-Man’s admission papers, which seem to confirm that the young man hasn’t left for military school yet. Soon-Yi, Babayan and Basel storm into the room with newly escalated demands for payment, leaving everyone in an uproar.

Act Two
Scene One

Roxanne urges Susana to tell Conti that she’ll sleep with him if he agrees to pay off Soon-Yi. Through this deception, Roxanne hopes to obtain recorded proof of his infidelity for grounds to divorce him.

Soon-Yi and Babayan meet with Conti, now threatening to report Figaro to the INS. Figaro swears that he is indeed American-born; he was found as an infant in a bar in Rosarito, wearing a Dodgers cap inscribed with the words “Baby America.” At this, Soon-Yi and Babayan are shocked to realize that their adversary is, in fact, their long-lost son, for whom they have been searching for years. The angry confrontation turns instantly into a joyful reunion. When Susana arrives, she is delighted to learn that she will be able to get citizenship after marrying Figaro.

Roxanne arrives with Barbara and Li’l B-Man, wearing matching bridesmaids’ dresses. When Conti sees them together, he punishes Barbara by taking her cell phone away. Donna realizes that she can’t bear to part with her son after all, and decides that Li’l B-Man must stay in Los Angeles with her and not go away to military school.

Susana sends Conti a text message, confirming their assignation later. Li’l B-Man picks Conti’s pocket, hoping to return Barbara’s cell phone to her, but he recovers the wrong phone with Susana’s message. Barbara is shocked by the images she finds on her father’s cell phone. Meanwhile, the wedding ceremony takes place, with Babayan giving the bride away.

Scene Two
Barbara is distraught about her dysfunctional family and makes a pathetic attempt to hang herself in the garden. Figaro enters with his parents and they rush to the girl’s side. She shows them her father’s cell phone, with text messages that seem to come from Susana. Figaro is appalled, but Soon-Yi tries to reassure him that he doesn’t know the whole story.  

Li’l B-Man meets with Barbara, promising her that he is finished with writing crass songs. He sings her his newly revised version of his love song, which wins her over.

As darkness falls, Susana arrives wearing one of Roxanne’s dresses; Roxanne has disguises herself in Susana’s wedding gown. Conti approaches the woman he presumes is Susana, and the two go off into the bushes. When Figaro sees Susana, however, he quickly sees through her disguise; he realizes that she has been faithful all along and is just playing a trick on Conti. Still, he pretends to court “Roxanne,” which makes Susana furious until Figaro reveals that he was just playing along.

When Conti emerges from the bushes, Figaro and the disguised Susana make sure that he sees the two of them together in an amorous embrace. Conti flies into a rage at his “wife’s” apparent duplicity. As everyone in the household rushes in, begging him to show mercy, Conti swears to divorce her. The last-moment arrival of the real Roxanne, no longer wearing her disguise, silences him, and he realizes that he has been the butt of everyone’s deception. He begs his wife to forgive him, and she agrees that they should try a fresh start. Together, everyone celebrates the happy outcome.

RUNNING TIME

Two hours and 30 minutes, including one intermission

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