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Subject: Totally terrific CLEMENZA di TITO
From: [log in to unmask]
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Date:Sun, 29 Jun 2003 13:32:31 EDT

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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
Director-Garnett Bruce
Sets/Costumes-Luke Hegel-Cantarella

Tito-Simon O'Neill
Vitellia-Carolyn Betty
Sesto-Stacey Rishoi
Annio-Angela Niederloh
Servilia-Miranda Rowe
Publio-Matthew Boehler

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 
hear more!
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!!

Washington, DC

<<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 
Ernst Krenek
translates as:
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!>>

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