Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Teatro Grattacielo - I Compagnacci & Il Re - 05/24/11

I Compagnacci
Composer: Primo Riccitelli
Anna Maria: Jessica Klein
Baldo: Gerard Powers
Bernardo del Nero: Peter Castaldi
Venanzio: Lawrence Long
Cantori New York Chorus
RIS Children's Opera Chorus

Il Re
Composer: Umberto Giordano
Rosalina: Joanna Mongiardo
Colombello: James Price
Il Re: John Maynard
Il Mugnaio: Lawrence Long
Il Mugnaio’s wife: Eugenie Grunewald
Cantori New York Chorus

Being able to attend grand-scale opera performances featuring international stars at the one and only Met is of course one of the many wonderful perks enjoyed by music-loving New Yorkers. But other smaller, and much smaller, companies also provide significant musical delights in their own way, and I try to make a point of periodically checking them out. That’s how I found myself at the wonderful Rose Theater of the Lincoln Center last night, for a double bill of Italian one-act operas in concert on the theme “Love Lost… Love Won!”. The lyric comedy I Compagnacci and the fable in three scenes Il Re sounded just like the perfect nice little pick-me-up with the promise of melodic music, lyrical singing and… happy ends!

A short opera with many characters, if not much development, Riticelli’s I Compagnacci mostly focuses on the two leads who get to sing a couple of meaty solos and a central duet. Both young singers Jessica Klein and Gerard Powers demonstrated reasonable vocal skills and admirable willingness to belt out their inconsequential lines, and that was all that really mattered. The other singers proved adequate, and although the chorus had little to sing, they came out mightily strong when their turn came. Boy eventually got Girl, and all was well again in the world.
Giordano’s Il Re easily stood out mostly thanks to Joanna Mongiardo, an incredibly powerful soprano whose riveting coloratura sounded destined to blow the theater’s roof any second. The fact that she had an unabashedly all-around pretty, witty musical score to work from did not hurt either. The other three singers nevertheless managed to hold their own and the orchestra definitely proved capable as well. A fluffy little thing, Giordano’s last opera made the most of its simplicity and directness, and nicely concluded a very enjoyable evening.

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