|Sean Christensen, Colin Whiteman, Kristina Bachrach, Kirsten Scott, and Inbar Goldmann|
Bare Opera is barely two years old and we've written about them several times. They present innovative versions of operas in unusual venues. A new audience is drawn by the quality of their work, the intimacy of the productions, and the artistry of their singers. Music Director Laetitia Ruccolo was one of the founders and did an exemplary job of accompanying the singers.
Most of their regular singers are known to us and highly valued. Lest we show favoritism, let us describe the program in sequence. Almost the entire ensemble was introduced in the lively "Bevo al tuo fresco sorriso" from Puccini's La Rondine.
"Aprite, presto aprite" from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro gave soprano Kristina Bachrach's Susanna the opportunity to chase Kirsten Scott's Cherubino around the playing area, to the audience's amusement. This is a wonderful scene to introduce newbies to the opera and we suspect there were a few newbies in the audience.
Star soprano Larisa Martinez performed the soulful "La Maja y el Ruisenor" whilst Ms. Ruccolo provided plenty of Latin flavor from the piano. It was indeed a chorus of nightingales, one vocal and one instrumental.
Ms. Scott returned as the bratty boy of Maurice Ravel's L'enfant et les Sortileges, which was Bare Opera's first production. The superb lyric tenor Sean Christensen portrayed the Chinese Teapot with mezzo Inbar Goldmann reprising her role as the Chinese Teacup; they were very funny. Kristina Bachrach also reprised her role as the forlorn Princesse who confronts that bad boy with the consequences of his bad behavior.
Tenor Sungwook Kim sang the well known "Una furtiva lagrima" from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore.
The very humorous scene from Mozart's Die Zauberflote brought onstage the Three Ladies--Ms. Bachrach, Ms. Goldmann and Ms. Scott, to take the lock off Papageno's mouth and to present him and Tamino with the Magic Flute and Magic Bells. Bass-baritone Colin Whiteman made a perfect Papageno whilst Mr. Christensen made a terrific Tamino.
From Rossini's first opera, recently presented by Bare Opera, Ms. Scott and Mr. Whiteman reprised their roles as servants Clarina and Norton. What a joy to be reminded of that delightful production.
You, dear readers, will be the first to know that Die Zauberflote will be given a highly original production by Bare Opera in a highly unusual venue--on June 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. We just heard coloratura soprano Yungee Rhie sing "Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" and you will not want to miss her fabulous fireworks!
Ms. Martinez gave a sparkling account of "Je veux vivre" from Gounod's Romeo et Juliette, and was joined by her romantic Romeo Mr. Christensen for "Ange adorable". If that didn't melt your heart, you must have a stone in your chest!
The gorgeous trio from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, "Soave sia il vento" was harmonized beautifully by Mr. Whiteman as Don Alfonso, Ms. Martinez as Fiordiligi, and Ms. Scott as Dorabella.
The program closed with "Arpa gentil" from Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims. In this scene, all the characters are mesmerized and entranced by the offstage voice of Corinna (Ms. Martinez). Guess who else was mesmerized and entranced!
There were two lovely touches to the evening. One was that the cast members alternated in introducing each upcoming aria with a description of what was happening. No newbie could have felt left in the dark.
The other touch was that the women's gowns were provided by Shoperatic, the Opera Diva Dress Collection, which we believe recycles gowns for opera singers. What a great idea!
We would not be at all surprised if some of the chamber music lovers in the audience have become opera lovers. All it takes is an evening of good performances.
We have the upcoming Die Zauberflote on our calendar already. And so should you.
We would also like to share one more idea with you. If you are inclined to rebel against the upcoming cuts to the NEA, do make a donation to this excellent young company...www.bareopera.org/donate.
If the arts are to survive, it is up to US.
(c) meche kroop