Sunday, April 14, 2013

Opera San José Double Bill

Photo by Pat Kirk
Saturday night I attended the opening performance of Opera San José's double bill of Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi. The staging is straightforward & traditional, with sets & costumes of the correct period. The same set, featuring a facade of narrow archways, is used for both operas & is cleverly modified to create two completely different locations. Soprano Cecilia Violetta López as Angelica was an engaged actress & emotionally volatile, switching quickly between anger, despair, manic joy, & fear. Her singing was solid, & the soft high note ending her Senza mamma was controlled. Mezzo Nicole Birkland was a dispassionate Princess, & always faced the conductor when she sang. She looked like Elizabeth I in her ornate black & gold costume. Her voice is strong, & she has easy access to low notes.

The youthful cast of Gianni Schicchi was animated. We hear Buoso's relatives jabbering behind the curtain before the music starts. The drunken Betto of Jo Vincent Parks was fun to watch, & Michael Mendelsohn was hilarious as an ancient, doddering doctor. 2 rambunctious boys added to the mayhem. Baritone Evan Brummel as Gianni Schicchi has an open & focussed voice, & his Si corre dal notaio was brash. Tenor James Callon was a lively Rinuccio, & his voice has brightness & weight. His Firenze aria was fast. Ms. López was clear & direct in O mio babbino caro, & there was no lingering here either. Conductor Joseph Marcheso did a good job keeping the singers & orchestra together. His conducting was gentle but sweeping in Suor Angelica, & he kept things moving at a bristling pace in Gianni Schicchi.

The Opera San José audiences are warm, though they sometimes get chatty when there is no singing. The theater organ was played in the lobby before the show. During the intermission The Opera Tattler & I saw oboeinsight, who plays in these performances, & there was sad discussion on the untimely loss of Bill Bennett.

§ Double-bill Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi
Opera San José

Conductor, Joseph Marcheso
Stage Director, Lorna Haywood
Set Designer, Charlie Smith

Suor Angelica
Sister Angelica, Cecilia Violetta López
The Princess, Nicole Birkland
The Abbess, Sophia Chew
The Monitress, Tori Grayum
Mistress of the Novices, Cathleen Candia
Sister Genovieffa, Jillian Boye
Sister Osmina, Claire Myers
Sister Dolcina, Heather Clemens
Nursing Sister, Jane Burgchardt
The Alms Sister, Catherine Brady
A Novice, Giovanna Hutchison
Lay Sister,    Megan Conroy
Lay Sister, Angeline Pertronijevic
Angelica's Son, Rya Braatz

Gianni Schicchi
Gianni Schicchi, Evan Brummel
Lauretta, Cecilia Violetta López
Zita, Nicole Birkland
Rinuccio, James Callon
Gherardo, Robert Norman
Nella, Jillian Boye
Gherardino, James Costigan
Betto di Signa, Jo Vincent Parks
Simone, Isaiah Musik-Ayala
Marco, Peter Tuff
La Ciesca, Tori Grayum
Maestro Spinelloccio, Michael Mendelsohn
Ser Amantio di Nicolao, Michael Mendelsohn
Pinellino, Krassen Karagiozov
Guccio, Taber Dullea
Buoso, Tony Ciliberto

Sat., Apr. 13, 2013 8 p.m.
California Theatre, San Jose

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