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Subject: Regina Opera Trovatore "Golden Age" Presentation: Review by Nino Pantano
From: George Voorhis <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:George Voorhis <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 24 Jul 2008 11:26:00 -0400
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Dear List,

Here's a review by Nino Pantano about Regina Opera's recent presentation of 
Il Trovatore.  It appeared in the July 10 issue of the Italian Tribune.   Please 
contact the author directly with any comments or questions, [log in to unmask]
Enjoy, George
-----------------------------------------------------------
Regina Opera Presents a “Golden Age” IL Trovatore

A review by Nino Pantano

Composer Giuseppe Verdi was in a very fruitful period when Il Trovatore 
premiered in Rome in 1853. Il Trovatore has a libretto by Salvatore Cammarano 
and is based on a play Il Trovador (The Troubadour) by Antonio Garcia 
Gutierrez. The story is set in Aragan and Biscaya, Spain in the 15th century 
during a civil war between the provinces.

Il Trovatore has a complex plot about a gypsy’s plight, mixed up babies, the 
wrong baby hurled into the flames, rivals in love and who don’t know they are 
brothers and a brilliant vibrant score. The Regina Opera’s new subtitles above 
the stage, will allow the audience to follow the plot with ease.  This opera has 
always been a popular favorite but is not done as much as of yore because it 
requires great voices to give it justice.

I am happy to report that the Regina Opera in its final performance of the 
season Sunday afternoon June 8th served its capacity audience a Verdian 
feast for the eye as well as the ear! 

The ominous drum role, horns and chords begin this opera as Ferrando, 
captain of the guard, tells the tale of the gypsy who cast a spell on the 
count’s infant brother. Their father burned the gypsy at the stake. Vengeance 
is the theme throughout this masterpiece.

As Ferrando, bass Roland Burks gripped the listener onstage and in the 
audience with his “All’erta, All’erta!” Followed by “Abbietta, zingara” in which 
he tells his men the horrific tale of the gypsy, Mr. Burks possesses a true 
basso cantante with resonance, beauty, power and an Italianate vibrato that 
conjured up memories of the great bassos of post war Italy.

Leonora, a noblewoman, beloved of Manrico, and desired by di Luna, was sung 
by Deborah Longino whose luscious soprano caressed the ear with its warmth 
and power in her  Act Two aria “Tacea la notte placida “and the cabaletta “Di 
tale amor che dirsi.” In the final act, her “D’amor sull’ali rosee” was sung 
brilliantly with an interpolated “C” that stunned the listener. The 
following “Miserere” duet with Manrico was climaxed with two optional high C s 
one after the other. Her death scene was sung with floated tones great 
beauty and pathos. Deborah Longino was a wonderful Leonora and holds high 
the torch of great interpreters of this demanding role.  

Count di Luna was sung with golden age quality by Peter Hakjoon Kim whose 
robust, manly baritone and strong acting and declamatory skills make him true 
a contender for the big leagues. Kim’s  big aria “Il balen” in Act Two Scene 
Two in which he tenderly sings of his love for Leonora was sung with soaring 
beauty and lyricism, in the true “bel canto” style and earned him an ovation. 
It has been a very long time since I heard this aria so beautifully sung.

Tenor Paul Pitts was a splendid Manrico. His “Mal reggendo” duet with his 
mother, the gypsy Azucena, was delivered in a surging forthright manner and 
their farewell duet “Ai nostri monti” with rueful tenderness.  His duets with 
Leonora including the famed “Miserere” were fervently sung. The great Act 
Three  aria, “Ah, si ben  mio” in which Manrico sings of his love for Leonora 
was sung gracefully, and tenderly with some trills and impassioned baritonal 
phrasing at its end.
 
Manrico then sings the mighty cry of vengeance “Di quella pira” with its two 
treacherous sustained high “C’s” which Pitts sang   holding his sword from a 
platform high above the stage his voice flooding Regina Hall and giving us a 
ringing souvenir of his lofty talent to cherish!

Azucena, like Amneris in Aida, is a very strong part. A case in point is mezzo 
soprano Elizabeth Moulton whose splendid wide eyed frayed haired gypsy 
bedazzled us.     From Ms. Moulton’s chilling “Stride la vampa!” in the second 
act and her terror in telling her tale Ms. Moulton had us riveted, her cries 
of “Mio figlio” as the flame like music swirls and builds was hair raising. She 
was stunning in her duets with Manrico and di Luna. Ms. Moulton’s interpolated 
high C had the pulse racing with excitement. Her final “Egli era tuo fratello” 
(He was your brother) to the horrified di Luna was followed by “Sei vindicate o 
madre” (you are avenged o mother! was the very essence of opera at its 
best! 

The part of Inez, Leonora’s hand servant was sung by Susannah Stayter 
whose lovely soprano and elegant stage deportment made the most of her 
part.

Wayne Olsen’s familiar presence gratified as a messenger and Paolo Buffagni 
was a strong tenor assist in his role as Ruiz (being born in Pavarotti’s 
hometown of Modena, Buffagni shows special promise!

The chorus sang lustily, from veteran chorister Cathy Greco to ten year old 
angelic voiced Ingrid Kuribayashi and the famed Anvil chorus was particularly 
gratifying. Young chorister Wendy Chu also danced with acrobatic ease. 

The sets by Richard Paratley with the moon dominating the background and 
the distant hills and verdant valleys were enchanting, replaced later by the 
cloister walls and the dank dungeon in a simple eye catching and illuminating 
style.

The costumes were outstanding (Adriana Baker and Julia Cornely, Manrico’s 
heroic  armor, di Luna’s regal vestments, and military outfits, Leonora’s 
sumptuous gowns, that in the evenings glow  with the moon in the  lush 
background made one think of a renaissance painting. Ms. Longino made her 
own striking red and gold gown for the third act. The various ensembles of 
dancers, monks and nuns made for a potpourri of color.

Linda Lehr once again showed her genius in stage direction. The mighty 
confrontation scene in the second act with Manrico’s warring armies keeping di 
Luna and his men cornered with bow and arrows fixed was a grand stage 
event. 

The splendid Regina Orchestra of 36 outstanding musicians was conducted by 
Maestro Gregory Ortega who gave us a performance to cherish. Under Maestro 
Ortega’s baton, the musicians played with all the expansiveness, fire and fury 
that the composer demanded in the score.

The audience gave a standing ovation to all the singers and musicians. The 
Regina audiences are in the best American tradition with much diversity and 
young and old alike united in their love of opera. 

As the Regina Opera approaches its 39t season, we wish this outstanding 
company continued success in making Brooklyn the mecca for opera lovers.

by Nino Pantano, [log in to unmask]

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