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Puccini

La Fanciulla del West (New York City Opera)

September 10, 2017

The newly reconstituted New York City Opera opened its second full season with a shared production of Puccini’s rarely performed "La Fanciulla del West" created in collaboration with the Teatro di Giglio di Lucca, Italy; Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Sardinia; and Opera Carolina of Charlotte, North Carolina. Ivan Stefanutti’s production is solid but old-fashioned and traditional except for huge projections that fill the back wall of the three sets, some which work and some which don’t. Conducted by James Meena, Opera Carolina’s general director and principal conductor, with a cast led by soprano Kristin Sampson in the title role, both the orchestra and cast gave sturdy though only intermittently exciting performances in this unusual Italian opera. [more]

Heartbeat Opera: Butterfly

June 9, 2017

The artistic team responsible for this "Butterfly" made radical decisions and changes. Puccini’s original three acts of linear story – love and “wedding,” waiting, betrayal and death – are reorganized and abbreviated into three scenes of waiting, remembered love, and then betrayal. Some minor characters in the original opera are eliminated to create a caste of just five singing characters. The entire orchestra is reduced to a chamber orchestra of just six musicians, the Cantata Profana. The adaptation of Puccini’s orchestral score for this small chamber group by Daniel Schlosberg is remarkable: unexpectedly, its absolute faithfulness to Puccini’s musical intent at almost every turn made up for the diminished number of musicians. [more]

Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble: Verdi’s La Traviata & Chansons de Baudelaire

September 19, 2016

The performance of Verdi's "La Traviata" featuring Bonnie Frauenthal as Violetta and Jose Heredia as Alfredo Germont was wonderful in many ways. Frauenthal sang and acted her complex role compellingly: she is a confident singer, capable of both womanly sturdiness and subtle virtuosity, and she inhabited the dense narrative of Violetta's story credibly and compellingly. Heredia's youthful and earnest Alfredo was also convincing; his deep love of Violetta and grief at her death were poignantly believable. Interestingly, as an actor, Heredia stuck so literally to the movement of Alfredo's character in Piave's libretto that Alfredo's subservience to his father was maddening: the son's filial weakness undercut the manliness of his love for Violetta. Both Frauenthal and Heredia sang with integrity; they held nothing back from full commitment to either their roles or their audience. [more]

Butterfly

April 30, 2016

The show’s creator and director Ramesh Meyyappan also plays a character named Nabokov. The Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov was a renowned butterfly enthusiast. Naomi Livingstone plays Butterfly, a kite maker who hunts, kills and mounts butterflies. She meets Nabokov and they fall in love. Chris Alexander plays a customer who visits Butterfly’s shop and falls in love with her. Their relationships are ultimately marred by violence and tragedy. [more]

Chelsea Opera: Tosca

June 15, 2015

St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Chelsea was used to near perfect effect as the setting for all three acts of the opera. "Tosca"'s first act, which does, in fact take place in a church was, precisely because of the narrative, “easy” to stage, but the successful transformation of the St. Peter's Chelsea chancel into first, the emotional claustrophobia of the villainous chief of police's quarters and then, for the last act, the open air witness to revenge and tragedy resulted from the imaginative, effective stage direction and set management of Chelsea Opera's co-founders Leonarda Priore and Lynne Hayden-Findlay. [more]