A Non-Stop Summer for the Director of Opera UCLA

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Peter Kazaras has had a busy summer.

Kazaras, distinguished professor and director of Opera UCLA, recently directed Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro for the Seattle Opera. A perennial favorite at the Seattle Opera, Kazaras directed the opera with touches of grandeur and whimsy, allowing Mozart’s voice to speak through what Kazaras proudly called “the tremendous talent of our fabulous performers.”

Soraya Mafi & Ryan McKinny Shine in Mozart’s Classic Masterwork

The Seattle Times noted Kazaras’s subtle direction that allowed for the evergreen themes of love, betrayal and competition-between-the-sexes to bubble to the surface. The reviewer for Bachtrack noted that Kazaras’s staging “underscore(d) the keenness of desire” in the opera. This was “not just in the erotic sense, though that abounds, but a desire to grasp for meaning for some sort of reassurance amid the bafflement…. Indeed, this was a Figaro with a light, amiable touch that zeroes in on Mozart’s and Da Ponte’s impeccable comic pacing.”

“It was thrilling to return to Seattle Opera after several years to work with a team of great artists in putting together this show,” said Kazaras. “ Despite all the restrictions and worry, we all knew we had done something important – and the continuous laughter of the audience was like medicine for the soul!”

Production photo from The Marriage of Figaro at Seattle Opera, 2022

Critics also noted Kazaras’s attention to detail. The reviewer for Broadway World wrote: “Kazaras made the most of the ingenious opera’s comedic opportunities throughout the evening, and captured the Rossini-like chaos and confusion of the act-ending ensembles with aplomb. As always, Kazaras excelled in the small touches that came off as waggish and witty yet subtle; e.g. Figaro’s playfully using the tape measure intended for the bed to measure Susanna.”

Noting the overall outstanding quality of the production was Seen and Heard International: “An excellent cast of singers, a strong vision from the artistic team and Mozart’s incomparably brilliant music will make audiences forget their worries for three hours.” The reviewer added, for good measure, “That is something we could all probably use.”

Norman Garrett as Count Almaviva (Photo credit: Sunny Martini)

After the end of the school year, Kazaras then traveled to Santa Barbara to direct Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin for the Music Academy of the West. The opera was performed the weekend of July 15-17. The opera earned “well deserved” standing ovations from audiences who delighted at an opera that pleased both well-versed opera enthusiasts and first-time viewers.

Tivoli Treloar (rising UCLA 4th year) dancing Polonaise in Eugene Onegin, Music Academy of the West

“Everything came together brilliantly,” noted one reviewer. The combination of high-quality performers with “simple but effective sets” and colorful costumes “transported the audience to another time, another place.”

Peter Kazaras discusses Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” and working with the fellows at Music Academy of the West

Kazaras will be on sabbatical in the fall and spring quarters of next year.  Plans include working on several new opera libretti and also directing a revival of his acclaimed production of Puccini’s La Bohème for Washington National Opera. However, he is most excited about the first workshop next winter of Richard Danielpour’s new opera The Grand Hotel Tartarus, and also about the world premiere production of Kay Rhie’s Quake, scheduled for end of Spring quarter at the Freud Playhouse, a collaboration with the Department of Theater, to be directed by Mary Birnbaum.