We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Christa Hylton, Georgios Papadimitriou, John Schenkel-photo by Steve Faust
We never tire of Mozart and Nozze di Figaro may just be our favorite.  Otherwise why would we have spent an hour on the subway (each way) to catch Regina Opera Company's final performance?  Was it worth the trip?  Yes it was.  The opera was presented in its entirety with every line of recitative intact.  The opera itself is a perfect marriage of music and text with an endless stream of melodies, marvelous opportunities for singers to show their stuff in glorious arias, sympathetic characters and trenchant social commentary.    Although several characters created by Lorenzo da Ponte seem derived from commedia del'arte, the master's hand is evident as he limns their humanity, flaws and all, and develops their respective characters over the course of the opera.  If any reader has read or seen the Beaumarchais plays from which Da Ponte derived his libretto, we hope you will comment below.  We saw his Marriage of Figaro last season at the Pearl Theater and enjoyed it thoroughly but still prefer the opera.

The Regina Opera's sets (by Director Linda Lehr) were simple but workable and the same could be said for the costumes.  The casting was astute and there were some fine performances to enjoy.  As the eponymous hero, bass-baritone Georgios Papadimitriou was outstanding, both vocally and dramatically; he created a Figaro who was charming and wily, completely focused on outwitting Count Almaviva (baritone Julian Whitley) who was intent on obstructing Figaro's marriage. Clever Susanna was sung by the adorable Jenny Ribeiro whose "Deh vieni non tardar" was incredibly beautiful and taken at a slow tempo; the audience burst into applause prematurely and nearly missed her magnificent cadenza.  The sad and neglected Countess Almaviva was well sung by Christina Rohm who deserved the large round of applause she got for "Dove sono".

Another splendid performance was turned in by mezzo Danielle Horta as Cherubino, pleasing the audience with her "Non so più" and "Voi che sapete".  As Marcellina, mezzo Christa Hylton  had us giggling every time she came onstage with her ridiculous hat with yellow feathers and her expressive face.  She handled the transition from the vengeful creditor who wanted her "pound of flesh" from Figaro to his generous loving mother without missing a beat.  Another hilarious performance was given by tenor Alejandro Salvia as the foppish Don Basilio, sporting a bright pink wig and turquoise satin breeches--a vision to be sure.

Bass-baritone John Schenkel was a most convincing Dr. Bartolo but had some problems projecting his voice.  This might be due to the split-level pit, an unfortunate situation due to a lack of space (strings at conductor-level and winds buried behind and below) .  Another consequence of this situation was a degree of imbalance in the orchestra which was conducted by Maestro Scott Jackson Wiley. There was, however, no imbalance among the voices in the gorgeous duets and ensembles.

Antonio was played by Gene Howard and his daughter Barbarina by Nicole Leone.  Don Curzio was performed by Brian Ribeiro.  Special mention must be made of the fine chorus.

© meche kroop

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