Again, I can say I have seen another terrific La CLEMENZA di TITO and oddly
enough, it grows on me with each viewing. The WOLF TRAP OPERA finished their
run last night with a killer cast and a beautiful production that would make any
major or minor full-fledged opera company jealous!
Conductor- Steven Mosteller
The show began with an all white stage and a white curtain drawn across the
length of it about 10 feet back from the edge. A red Empire settee dominated
the stage (with a gold Napoleonic bumblebee pattern). Vitella, swathed in red
fabrics and capes looking somewhat Empire in design reclined on the chaise; a
large easel with a gold framed oil of her father (the Emperor Vitellius) looking
like Franz Josef in military garb was on the other half of the stage. Sesto
wore a black pinstripe suit with spats. Annio sported a three-piece woolen suit
of mottled tan color.
The curtain drew aside to reveal another all white scene save for one lone
thin evergreen in a square raised up planter which had a pool of water in it.
The rear and side walls had arches and a white ceiling over part of the stage
had a circular hole for the tree. It was basically very white and geometrical,
indeed, pretty unexciting until Act II. The chorus wore clothes that seemed to
look 1950s with a hint of Tyrollean or Alpine folksiness to them. Tito's grand
entrance revealed a large man all in white with gold piping (giving a
somewhat military feel), a dark velvet cape and a large golden eagle breastplate.
Servilia seemed to have on a 1950s party dress from the musical "Grease" or "Bye
Bye Birdie," with pearls of course. Vitellia's second entrance gave her a cape
and large brimmed and plumed red hat. Publio seemed severe and stuck up in a
knee-length black formal coat while black gloves, spats and a cane.
Although there seemed to be some time warps in the costumes, they actually
were impressive and worked quite well. I noticed in Mr. Hegel-Cantarella's bio
that he did mostly theater and had few opera credits other than an Albert
Herring. I think he should be doing more opera as his work seemed to be inspired
and gave us much to think about without being over the top!
The singing, was, naturally, the highlight of the entire evening. The first
scene was a bit slow, but Ms. Betty offered some magnificent high and low notes
of extreme excellence and to top it off showed us she knew great use of
coloratura; this is a multifaceted talent!
Once the stage opened up we were given a royal entrance aria which showed
that this Tito was in charge. You may remember from my remarks about the Wolf
Trap Recital the previous night that I was totally smitten with SIMON O'NEILL's
voice in the Lombardi aria. Last night he proved he can sing Mozart just as
well. For those looking to find him in the future his bio includes a Beethoven's
9th (Auckland Philharmonia), Diary of a Man Who Vanished (Bard Festival, NY)
and small parts (WHY in GOD's NAME?) in the NYC Opera's Magic Flute and Of Mice
and Men this fall. This is a big voice and a stellar one, I can't wait to
STACEY RISHOI's "Parto, parto" was a modicum of Mozart elegance, but it was
in Act II that she really shone in "Per questo istante," but I digress.
After intermission the stage was very bare, all the white walls were gone and
replaced with burnt white areas and fallen objects. The scorched
infrastructure to the ceiling and walls did remain, as did the evergreen in its little
Musically, we were served a series of wonderful "pleading" arias. Starting
with ANGELA NIEDERLOH's impassioned pleas from Annio to Sesto, and then to Tito
on behalf of Sesto, but it was Ms. RISHOI's "Per questo istante" that set the
audience in a frenzy of bravos and bravas; this has to be my favorite aria in
th work as well.
In between, we were treated to some wonderful bass music from Mr. Boehler,
alas it was too short and gone so fast. Why did Mozart ignore the bass here in
this work between Don Giovanni and Flute, where the lower voices are given so
Finally, "Sia l'impero" from Mr. O'Neill gave us another bout of florid tenor
singing and brought the evening to a blissful close.
Both chorus and orchestra should be noted for their excellent work as well!!
ALAN J. SAVADA, CTC
<<Uns is gegeben, daß wir immer meinen, anderswo wäre das Glück, und so
beneiden wir alle, die anders sind.>>--Reisebuch aus den Österreichen Alpen by
It is our lot always to imagine that happiness lies elsewhere, and so we envy
all things that are different.
<<The lure of travel set my heart afire>>--Erich Korngold from DIE TOTE STADT
<<If you ask me what I came into this world to do,
I will tell you I came to live out loud>>--Emile Zola
****************LIFE IS A CABERNET!>>