Culture Magazine

Opera Review: Farce, In Any Language

By Superconductor @ppelkonen
L'heure Espagnole and Gianni Schicchi at Juilliard

Opera Review: Farce, In Any Language

Costume design for Don Iñigo Gomez in  L'heure Espagnole.
Design and drawing by Vita Tyzkun  © 2011 The Juilliard School.

On Wednesday night, the Juilliard Opera finished their strong season with an unusual pairing of one-act comedies by Ravel and Puccini. Juilliard alumna Keri-Lynn Wilson conducted both operas in razor-sharp performances, expertly played and timed.
Time is at the heart of Ravel's L'heure Espagnole ("The Spanish Hour.") This is the story of an unfaithful clockmaker's wife (Cecilia Hall) who juggles three suitors while her husband is out setting the city clocks each week. This is pure French farce, with two of the would-be lovers hiding themselves in large clocks, while the studly young muleteer (Andreas Andriotis) carries them up and down the stairs.
Ms. Hall shone as Concepción, the young wife who is considering the poet Gonzalve (Daniel T. Curran) and the banker Don Iñigo Gomez (Alexander Hajek) who finds himself locked in his clock. The opera was lightly played, with crisp ensemble singing and a tight account of Ravel's intricate score.
This fine cast switched places for Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, with Mr. Hajek taking the title role. He made a brash, memorable Schicchi, with good comic acting and a commanding presence. He made Schicchi's ode to Florence (where he warns the gathered relatives of the perils of their scheme to rewrite the will of the deceased Buoso Donati) the emotional heart of the piece, displaying a fine lyric baritone laced with poisonous wit. And the idea of having Schicchi cue the light changes and set the scene? Perfect.
The Korean soprano Jung van Noon, a student of the great Renata Scotto, made a stellar impression as Lauretta. Her "O mio babbino caro" was sung with such melting beauty that half the audience (not knowing where the piece ended) applauded early. She made the prospect of throwing herself into the Arno River a realistic one, arching into the high phrases and pouring out the heartfelt emotion that is required for convincing Puccini.
Schicchi and daughter were surrounded by a memorable group of players. Daniel T. Curran was Rinuccio, Lauretta's suitor and the one good egg in the rotten Donati basket. Timothy Beenken and Carla Jablonski were strong as Simone and La Cieca, the oldest members of the family with their sights set on the biggest shares of the estate. The other members of he company gave good comic performances, including a brief, hilarious cameo by character tenor Said Pressley as the hapless Doctor.
Andreas Aroditis returned as the notary Amantio, a shady figure in leather and aviators. As appropriate for this modern-dress program, he was flanked by two straight-outta-Brooklyn witnesses: Pinnelino "the cobbler"(Drew Santini) and Guccio "The Dyer" (Philip Stoddard. This comic trio upped the level of humor and intensity. As this comic confection whirled to a close, the audience was cheerfully prepared to forgive the hell-bound Gianni Schicchi for his schemes. And with singing like this, why not?

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Opera Review: Another Crack at the Rainbow Bridge

    Opera Review: Another Crack Rainbow Bridge

    The Return of the Lepage Das Rheingold. Scene Two of Rheingold with Bryn Terfel (center) as Wotan. Photo by Ken Howard © 2010 The Metropolitan Opera. Read more

    By  Superconductor
  • Opera Review: First the Words, Then the Diva

    Opera Review: First Words, Then Diva

    Renée Fleming Reigns as the Met revives Capriccio. Renée Fleming as the Countess in Capriccio at the Met, 2008. (No, that's not the dress she wore last night. Read more

    By  Superconductor
  • Opera Review: Three Faces of the Void

    Opera Review: Three Faces Void

    City Opera experiments with Monodramas. Soprano Anu Komsi in La Machine d'etre. Photo by Carol Rosegg ©2011 New York City Opera On Friday night, the City Opera... Read more

    By  Superconductor
  • Opera Review: The Finer Diner

    Opera Review: Finer Diner

    David Lomelí triumphs in L'Elisir at City Opera. David Lomelí as Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore at New York City Opera. Photo by Carol Rosegg © 2011 New York... Read more

    By  Superconductor
  • Opera Review: Unhinged. Unmoored. Unsurpassed.

    Opera Review: Unhinged. Unmoored. Unsurpassed.

    Riccardo Muti brings Otello to Carnegie Hall. Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony in Otello. Photo by Tim Rosenberg © 2011 Chicago Symphony Orchestra... Read more

    By  Superconductor
  • What’s Your Favorite Soprano Role in Opera?

    What’s Your Favorite Soprano Role Opera?

    In celebration of Soprano Month on “Operatoonity,”  I created a poll to find out your favorite soprano roles. To see. To sing. Makes no difference in this... Read more

    By  Galegirl
  • How To Get Ahead In Opera

    Ahead Opera

    image credit Opera - no one can really argue that it is an understated art form and the sets upon which operas are staged have long been renowned for their... Read more

    By  Gerard