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Inducting a new member into the Opera Appreciation Society - Persephone Yavanna the Entwife

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November 8th, 2006


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11:16 pm - Inducting a new member into the Opera Appreciation Society
Went to the opera tonight with horuschilde. Since it was her first time, I "deflowered" her with Love -- "L'elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love)" to be exact -- while plying her with champagne.

She seemed to enjoy the experience. :)

After a minor foul-up due to my watch having decided to go on strike -- permanently -- because of water damage from the pouring rain, we had a slightly-delayed dinner of Chinese food, chicken with cashews for her, lamb with walnuts for me. (With the now-obligatory taro bubble tea, of course!) After munching, we splashed our way to the opera house, where we were treated to one of the best productions I've seen this season.

I'd been eagerly awaiting this evening, since this production was directed by the legendary Jonathon Miller, and I was in no way disappointed with this delightful show. The casting was excellent, the acting top-notch, the singing superb -- and the English translation of the lyrics absolutely hysterical. The translator had updated the standard translation to go with the 1950s setting of this production with references to Elvis and Sinatra and terms like "Daddy-O" and "knuckle sandwich" -- while it wasn't quite what was being sung at the moment, it still worked amazingly well and there were many times that titters could be heard from the rows around us.

The 50s diner setting in the American Southwest worked well too and I liked the Edward Hopper "look" of the production. I generally prefer more traditional staging, but I also enjoy alternate visions and interpretations, provided they work with the opera as a whole -- and this did. (But then again, I expect that from a director of the quality of Dr. Miller . . . )

I was happy with the performances too. Most of the singers had good enunciation as well as good sound, although some of them took a while to get warmed up. One of these was the lead, Leonardo Capalbo making his debut as Nemorino -- he was almost inaudible during the first scene of Act 1, but he got better later on in the act and by Act 2 was in fine form, completely nailing "Una furtiva lagrima" with a spectacular rendition of the signature aria of this opera. I'm hoping that this New Jersey native and former Liederkranz singer will stay with City Opera for a while, since I'd love to hear what he does with other roles! A new Caruso in the making, in my opinion . . . .

Michael Chioldi, who I'd seen a few days ago in "Hansel and Gretel" as the children's father, did a fine job blustering his way across stage as Belcore, belting out his part in a baritone that rang through the theater as clear as a bell. He was a delight to watch, as was Jason Grant as Dulcamara, the conman-cum-quack whose potion is the dramatic catalyst of the opera as well as its namesake. Grant hammed it up for his duet with Georgia Jarman's Adina in a most amusing fashion at the "hop" -- he certainly made the most of his opportunity to mug his way through the role of the oily doctore.

Jarman, like Capalbo, took a while to get warmed up, having a pronounced tendency to mumble her words as she sang, something even horuschilde remarked upon. She got better by Act 2, though, and did an excellent job for her key scenes with Nemorino. She also held her own in the trios with Nemorino and Belcore, although she did seem to be more than a bit overshadowed by the male leads in general. I noticed this same sort of thing happen for several of the NYCO productions this season for the female leads -- the sopranos seem to be lacking in vocal firepower compared to the males they share a stage with -- so perhaps this is something the company has to work on more in the future, as it makes the operas seem a bit lopsided musically.

Still, all in all, a fine production, quibbles aside -- and an excellent introduction to the delights of live opera for the now formerly-virginal horuschilde.

~~ lights a clove cigarette and takes a puff ~~
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: "Una furtiva lagrima" by Gaetano Donizetti
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( | Eat a pomegranate)


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