WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Anne Arenstein 07.10.2015 56 days ago
Posted In: Opera at 11:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Review: Cincinnati Opera's Don Pasquale

The production continues Saturday

Cincinnati Opera's Don Pasquale was a delight and, so far, the season’s best overall production. Burak Bilgili’s Pasquale and Alexey Lavrov’s Malatesta share the honors for outstanding performances and the entire enchilada (as Peter Schickele would say) was directed by Chuck Hudson, with production elements and costumes built by Arizona Opera. The setting is 1950s Hollywood and Don Pasquale is a silent film star trying to make a comeback by marrying a starlet. We get Don’s backstory through a series of black-and-white film clips of his biggest hits, press notices and his subsequent failures in talkies and as a director. They’re brilliantly effective and the opening segments are in synch with the overture.Pasquale’s black-and-white environment takes on color as he decides to seek a bride, and by Act II, the only gray spot is Pasquale himself.Burak Bilgili brought crisp articulation and robust presence to the aging Pasquale. He’s a gifted comic and he handled the physical demands (and there were plenty) moving gracefully across the stage. His foil Malatesta was Polish baritone Alexey Lavrov; the phrase "silky elegance" is the best descriptor of his voice. Since he’s scheduled to sing this role at the Met, it doesn’t look like he has to worry about future gigs, but if he ever does, he’s got a great future as Dracula — he can handle a cape with the best of them.Tenor Ji-Min Park sang Ernesto with clarity and sweetness, especially “Com’e Gentil” but the stage business covered up a lot of the loveliest passages. Eglise Gutierrez broke her ankle earlier in the week, but she navigated the stage in such a way that unless you saw her wearing a slightly different slipper, you wouldn’t suspect anything was amiss. But something was because she was a restrained Norina and I frequently couldn’t hear her. She might have been in a lot of pain and backstage, she had on a boot, so I’m more than willing to give her a break. One hopes she'll notch it up by Saturday.Richard Buckley led a lively reading of this delightful score. Hudson’s staging is based on his studies with Marcel Marceau and the best example of that was the staging “Com’e Gentil.” It was hilarious (the long arm reaching for Pasquale’s keys) but it upstaged the aria. Oh well. The audience loved it. The actors proved to be deft comedians, especially Park, whose wonky Ernesto can’t do anything right. Of course the revenge duet got an encore.Fun, fun, fun. And with a ‘50s setting, there might have been a T Bird lurking backstage. DON PASQUALE continues Saturday. For info here.
 
 

You are Here … with an Expense Account

Where to spend money that isn’t yours

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 8, 2015
A guide to help you determine where to spend cash this weekend.  
by Anne Arenstein 07.01.2015 65 days ago
Posted In: Opera at 09:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Review: Morning Star World Premiere

Cincinnati Opera presented debut performance Tuesday night

Morning Star, the new opera by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist William Hoffman, had its world premiere last night before a near-capacity audience in the School for Creative and Performing Arts’ Corbett Theater. Based on a 1940 play by Sylvia Regan, the story follows a Jewish immigrant family in the early decades of the 20th century. Think of it as a follow-up to the Tevye family from Fiddler on the Roof coming to America and having to abandon all that tradition. Morning Star was originally commissioned by Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Goodman Theater but was dropped when artistic differences killed the collaboration. In 2012, Opera Fusion: New Works offered Gordon and Hoffman the opportunity to rework Morning Star. The final result is light-years from what was heard in workshops, but to paraphrase a line from the opera, the story abides. Gordon writes beautifully for the voice and his score has moments of dramatic intensity, playfulness and heartbreaking beauty. He’s a favorite among American singers, so it’s not surprising how great the singing is — but that’s also thanks to Ron Daniel’s staging. Daniels also guided the shaping of the piece, strengthening the drama and developing characters. But there are still problems with the libretto. Many of Hoffman’s images and lines are poetic but much of the rhymed verses are more distracting than descriptive. But when he nails it, the words and music are a gorgeous synthesis. The Triangle Shirtwaist fire in Manhattan serves as a framing device and a looming presence. On March 25, 1911, the Triangle erupted in flames, killing 146 workers — mostly young immigrant women who were trapped by locked doors, non-functioning elevators and broken fire escapes. The opera’s prologue is a brilliant evocation of the public viewing of the victims in the factory, which took place during a torrential downpour. Against a background of images from that day, singers clad in raincoats and holding black umbrellas recite accounts of what took place as the music swirls into a collective moan. The Triangle Shirtwaist fire serves as a framing device and a looming presence. In March 1911, the Triangle erupted in flames, killing 146 workers, mostly young immigrant women, who were trapped by locked doors, non-functioning elevators, and broken fire escapes. The opera’s prologue is a brilliant evocation of the public viewing of the victims in the factory, which took place during a torrential downpour. Against a background of images from that day, singers clad in raincoats and holding black umbrellas recite accounts of what took place as the music swirls into a collective moan. Widow Becky Felderman presides over her family of three teenaged daughters and a young son. Like many immigrant families, the Feldermans have a border, Aaron, who happens to come from the same village and is a friend of the family. He also happens to be in love with Becky. It’s a terrific cast made up of some of the best American voices out there. Jeanine De Bique stole the show as Pearl with a velvety, lyric mezzo that elevated her aria “I See Colors” into a showpiece. Soprano Twyla Robinson’s Becky has a sweetness tempered by determination and she’ll break your heart when she sings “The Family Abides.”  The daughters get powerful performances from Elizabeth Zharoff, Jennifer Zetlan and Elizabeth Pojanowski. Andrew Bidlack sings the title song with great style. Andrew Lovato is a sensitive and sympathetic Harry Engel, the unhappy husband of Sadie Felderman. Morgan Smith is an amazing baritone and I wish that Aaron’s character had more depth, but Smith makes it his own and it’s worth hearing. Riccardo Hernandez’s scenic design incorporates the Triangle factory and Wendall K. Harrington’s projections are used to great effect, particularly in the prologue and in the final ensemble in which the fire claims its victims. Is it perfect? No. But it’s got staying power, a score with a lot of memorable music, and this production features voices you should hear. Bravo to Cincinnati Opera and Opera Fusion: New Works for fostering this project. And damned if I can’t get that song “Morning Star” out of my head.MORNING STAR continues through July 19 at SCPA’s Corbett Theater. More info: cincinnatiopera.com.
 
 

'Morning Star' Rising

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Tuesday is the long-anticipated opening of Morning Star, Cincinnati Opera’s first world premiere in more than 50 years.   

Summer Opera Preview

Cincinnati Opera at 95: stepping forward, looking back

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Twenty years ago, I wrote a cover story about Cincinnati Opera’s 75th season and the pending hire of a new artistic director following a multi-year series of self-studies and community forums. Two decades and two artistic directors later, the company has stayed on track, achieving many of its goals and, in notable instances, exceeding them.    

A Summer Song

Four impressive shows round out Cincinnati Opera's upcoming season

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 12, 2013
One intriguing opera in a new venue plus three warhorses equals Cincinnati Opera’s summer season. Factor in casts featuring many of opera’s most exciting and acclaimed young singers, along with young directors and acclaimed conductors, and the formula may come up a winner.   

Philip Glass' 'Galileo Galilei' Is More Than a Musical Challenge

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Composer Philip Glass’ 18th opera, Galileo Galilei, telescopes the conflict between genius and dogma in 10 scenes, moving backward in time as Old Galileo looks back on his life. By opera standards, it’s brief: 90 minutes without an intermission.  

Singing The Personal And Political

A rarely performed 20th-century opera and a new work confront the clash of ideology and emotion

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The personal is definitely political in two operas onstage this month in both Benjamin Britten’s Owen Wingrave, in which a young man chooses pacifism over a military career, and Fellow Travelers, based on the novel about a gay love affair during the McCarthy era.  

Singers Revive Roles for Cincinnati Opera’s ‘Silent Night’

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Craig Irvin, Andrew Wilkowske and Gabriel Preisser are enjoying a career arc that any opera singer would kill for. All three performed in the world premiere of Silent Night, an opera that garnered rave reviews, a Pulitzer Prize, a PBS broadcast and subsequent productions, including this weekend’s from the Cincinnati Opera, in which the singers reprise their original roles.  

CCM Alums Take on the Baritone Bad Boys of ‘La Calisto’

0 Comments · Tuesday, July 15, 2014
“Who told you Baroque operas are dull?” Andrew Garland says. “Who told you that?”    

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