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Subject: Washington National Opera's Young Artists attain awesomeness with BARBIERE di SIVIGLIA(5-17-19)
From: Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 18 May 2018 10:58:08 -0400

text/plain (76 lines)

Last night was the second momentous Young Artists fully stage production this season at WNO(Alcina was last November) and many folks were saying it was one of the best ever performances by the talents of our amazing Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program!! It doesn't hurt that they had directors Peter Kazaras and David Carl Toulson on hand to make it a superbly exciting show that oozed comedy. The YA performances are always enlightening for everyone, even those of us who have seen the same production over and over. It's all about the singers AND the audience, which is full of many younger folks who have never been to the opera(tickets are sold at lower prices making it easier for those that cannot afford the regular prices--top price orchestra goes for $89!). That said, we all get to experience the novelty of the work as if it were the first time. The program's director, Robert Ainsley, gave a short speech welcoming everyone and telling us that this program has achieved so many landmarks, this year begin the first time with two productions and having our YA's in first place at the Met Auditions Finals in NYC attending Operalia and even performing for foreign heads of state at the White House! Who would not be impressed. Our family is so thrilled to be a major sponsor of this important program, indeed so much so that we feel it like family!
Allegra De Vita
Count Almaviva:
Arnold Livingston Geis
Christopher Kenney
Alexandria Shiner
Dr. Bartolo:
Paolo Bordogna
Don Basilio:
Timothy J. Bruno

Fiorello:Christian Bowers

Sergeant:James Shaffran

Ambrogio:Matthew Pauli

Peter Kazaras
Emily Senturia
Set Designer:   
Allen Moyer
Costume Designer:      
James Scott
Lighting Designer:      
Mark McCullough
Rosa Mercedes

Assistant Director:David Carl Toulson

Assistant Conductors:Michael Baitzer,Joel Aya & Christopher Koelzer

From the start of Mr. Geis' "Ecco ridente in cielo" and then with Mr. Kenney's "Largo al factotum" we knew these performers were at the levels of any major artists appearing today on the world's major opera house stages. I clearly has a newbie two seats away from me and, indeed, we all did giggle profusely at the multiple poses Almaviva took as he prepared to deliver his serenade. As Mr. Kenney entered from the rear aisle just behind my seat, I turned around and realized I was in the spotlight as he turned and headed fo the stage, whipping me in the face (ever so lightly and not on purpose) with the jacket over his shoulder! At the end of the Largo the audience seemed to go insane. I can't ever recall a reaction like this at the theater in DC, not even for the Ring Cycle; it was indeed momentous.

Having the brilliant Mr. Bordogna as Basilio was a terrific and indeed perfect coup. His performances with the main cast were ever so memorable and he hammed it up even more all night getting the audience into repeated tizzies of hysterics. 

Ms. De Vita is no novice to Rossini and could very well be the greatest upcoming coloratura mezzo on the opera scene. Her "Una voce poco fa" excelled and the role fits her like a glove. Mr. Bruno is about to finish his third year in the program and has been an excelling bass in multiple roles. This summer he repeats Basilio at Glimmerglass and last night was just a preview of his brilliant capabilities. His comic timing seems to be just as amazing as he flipped a small cake off of Bartolo's tea service at the end of "La calunnia" which went right out the balcony door behind him into a hiding Figaro's mouth! Later in Act II he caught virtually every pastry hurled at him in the ensemble "Buona sera mio signore." (If you need a more detailed explanation of the sets, costumes and production itself, please refer to my first posting of this work two weeks ago.)

When the "drunken" and disguised Almaviva arrives, Ms. Shiner's Berta opens the door as he drunkenly kisses her cleavage, she screams, runs off and flips a grand jete as she exits; either I missed this before or it was just added last night...sheer perfection.

When the police entered again the opera newbies in the audience seemed to go nuts with laughter as the 18+ singers/supers seemed to keep coming through the door, as if dozens of clowns emerging from a mini car in the circus. Mr. Kenney showed amazing comic talent is aping the frozen statues as he circled the stage for the finale, which featured and even brighter and louder than before high soprano note from our brilliant Berta. As the soldiers exited back through the door, I was reminded of a scene from Babes in Toyland where the soldiers seem to come from nowhere and then exit again.

After intermission, before the recit even began Mr. Bordogno took advantage of the audience's laughs at his antics, pulled out his watch and said, "oh, no time for this..." and went on. Mr. Geis gave another portrayal to "Pace, gioia" with a kind of slushy lisp to his recit, spitting on those in his way. I had also failed to notice Mr. Pauli's Ambrogio acting like a mad dog at the site of Almaviva as Alonso; he seemed to be foaming at the mouth as was constantly calmed by Bartolo. The lesson scene seemed to be all madness and again what a treat to hear so many laughs throughout the house.

Ms. Shiner was indeed luxury casting in Berta's often cut aria with an amazing high note again.

The finale after the storm moves so fast here (I guess it is because the big tenor aria is cut) and I have to say I was anxious to run home as the entire cast and many patrons were all coming over for a dinner party we were hosting. I can not, however, fail to mention the amazing face that Ms. De Vita gave when Mr. Geis uttered "non so Lindoro;" it was the operatic face that launched a thousand laughs!

I am so proud of the amazing job these young artists did, and last night was the culmination of much hard work and a truly amazing year of performances and so much more for all of them. BRAVI TUTTI!!

ALAN SAVADA of Washington, DC

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