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.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Kirsten Scott, Liana Guberman and Boya Wei
Did we really spend an hour on the subway and cross the Gowanus Canal to hear a (reported) 100 minute version of Mozart's masterpiece Le Nozze di Figaro?  Yes, we did.  Was it worth it?  YES!  We would have traveled twice as far.  Was it really a severely truncated version?  No, it clocked in at nearly three hours and the judicious editing did nothing to impair the musical cohesiveness nor the comprehension of the delightfully silly plot.  The only things missing were bios of the artists (about whom we wish to know more) and the harpsichord continuo.  Music Director Laetitia Ruccolo did just fine on an electronic keyboard.   Conductor Dean Buck had the 20-piece orchestra well in hand, or in baton as was the case.  The young maestro started Loft Opera with singer/producer Daniel Ellis-Ferris and we feel glad to have gotten on board in time for this weekend's performance and sad to have missed their first effort--Don Giovanni.

The yearling company has succeeded on two counts; artistically and socially.  In an epoch in which young people have shown very little interest in this art form, it was heartening to see a loft bursting at the seams with twenty-somethings who might have been encouraged by the presence of Brooklyn Brewery beer which could be consumed during the performance; but their enthusiasm for the performance knew no bounds and the whoops, cheers and applause at the end left no doubt that they were well on the pathway to opera addiction.

The seats were benches but we weren't squirming.  The shoestring set was nothing more than a chair, a bench, a table.  The costumes made a modest attempt at evoking Spain.  But the commitment of the singers was total.  They had so much fun performing; it was only exceeded by the fun the audience had watching.  Comic turns were everywhere, especially in the case of character tenor Francisco Corredor who put a very personal stamp on the roles of Don Basilio and Don Curzio who had a very funny stutter.

The eponymous hero, sung by Pnini Grubner, was a charming Figaro with his "Se vuol ballare".  His Susanna was the adorable Boya Wei who won our hearts; her final aria "Deh vieni, non tardar" was lovely.  Liana Guberman made a dignified Countess and sang "Dove sono" even better than "Porgi amor".  The philandering Count was sung by Suchan Kim whose spiteful and clueless nature was another source of great amusement.  Kirsten Scott made an appealing Cherubino and did justice to "Non so piu" and "Voi qui sapete".  Yoojin Lee performed the role of Marcellina, making the rapid change from wanting Figaro for her husband to accepting him as her long lost son.  Producer Daniel Ellis-Ferris put in an appearance as the gardener Antonio and also as Don Bartolo who is obliged to accept Figaro as his son and to marry Marcellina.  Larisa Martinez made a winsome Barbarina.

All the voices measured up and we particularly enjoyed the duet between Susanna and the Countess whose voices blended beautifully.  Ensembles were similarly well-balanced.  The opera was directed by Carlos Conde.  The audience was so close to the playing area that we felt like members of the Count's household.  This operatic intimacy is rare and to be cherished.

You could not do any better than to cross the Gowanus Canal this weekend; the opera will be performed again Friday and Saturday night.  It deserves the wide audience it attracted and we hope there will still be tickets left for YOU!

(c) meche kroop

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