Stage Director

Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro – Westfield Symphony Orchestra (2001) – Classical New Jersey

Printed in Classical New Jersey – June 6, 2001

Marriage of Figaro, Westfield Symphony Orchestra. Director, James Marvel
The Westfield Symphony Orchestra’s presentation of The Marriage of Figaro was a vocal and musical treat as well as a testament to the power of the human imagination. This year featured a minimal and quite successful staging by James Marvel, who showed how a few well placed props and a bit of imagination can carry the show. A final light touch was provided at the end by director Marvel when Suzanna, Figaro, and his long-lost parents all posed for a family snapshot with a flash camera!
– Barbara Tomson

La Traviata, Boheme Opera Company. Director, James Marvel
… But the real story in this production was James Marvel’s stage direction. Frankly, when faced with attending another consumption laden Traviata my cynical attitude is something like “We’ve got drugs for this. Get this girl a shot.” So, imagine how astonishingly touching it was that director Marvel elected to not make any consumption references! Not one cough intruded like a warning flare. And what emerged from this simple decision was the ability of each audience member to make Violetta’s illness be whatever touched them most closely. This was not thrust upon us in some didactic manner, but was allowed to happen by removing a piece of unnecessary tradition.

There was one more surprising and effective bit of staging. In the Act III card scene, most productions wait until Germont’s vocal entrance for his angry entry. Here, Marvel had Germont enter after the Spanish Dance sequence and watch the proceedings from the entry lobby. The effect was to give the audience a point of view. How is Father taking this scene? What must he be thinking? So, when Germont finally came down the steps and confronted his son, it was coming from an emotional place we had all witnessed, even felt a part of, and was astonishingly powerful. We’ve come to trust Boheme Opera to supply good singers. Now we have a standard of acting which was uniformly excellent as well.

Back to Reviews