There are a billion things that singers, stage directors and audiences can learn from the Salzburg Marionettes.
So here are a few key lessons offered Friday at the Orange County Performing Arts Center when Gretl Aicher's beloved troupe kicked off three consecutive days of different Mozart operas with "Le Nozze di Figaro."
First, treat people you love with grace and respect. That's what's in Mozart's music, and that's how the marionette Figaro treated Susanna, how Cherubino sang on bended knee to the Countess and even how the Count related to Susanna.
Incidentally, don't confuse the Count with Iago. The Count causes mayhem and propels the plot, but he is noble and needs correction, not slaughter. That's why Mozart gives him movingly humble music when he asks his wife for pardon.
Second, suit the action to the music and da Ponte's brilliant libretto. Susanna is a maid, and she labors to pen the letter that the Countess dictates to her. Mozart's music for their duet is sublime enough to accommodate humor.
Third, notice how the singers--in this case, the voices of Eberhard Wachter, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Anna Moffo and Giuseppe Taddei--sing softly, modulating vocal power to suit the words. Finally, be grateful to Aicher for carrying on the theater created by her grandfather Anton Aicher and enriched by her father Hermann.