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, January 29, 2024


 Maestro Richard Cordova and the cast of Don Giovanni

Let us begin by saying that we enjoyed opening night of Mozart's Don Giovanni so much that we attended the matinée the following day. If we had another free night we would see it again. Anything more than double casting is a boon to the young singers who get experience in their particular roles. However, there is a price to pay and we can just imagine the challenge to the director, in this case Jenna Stewart, who had the additional challenge of taking over from someone else. In spite of a plethora of challenges, no one in the audience could have guessed since everything ran smoothly.

We became aware of Amore Opera, risen like a phoenix from the ashes after the untimely death of Artistic Director Nathan Hull, when we came to see a most excellent production of Puccini's La Bohême.  We were very fond of the gifted Mr. Hull and we have nothing but praise for Connie I. (his partner) for the welcome revival of the company. Sets and costumes were apparently sacrificed due to storage costs and we never expected that the spirit of the company would live on.

Because of constraints of time and space, we will save our rant about the future of opera for another day but let us just say that we have watched so many promising young companies go under due to poor management, lack of funding, and needlessly experimental productions. So let us all do what we can to help Amore Opera to not just survive but to thrive.

To begin, Maestro Richard Cordova led his mostly young musicians in a fine reading of the score, adapting the tempi  to the needs of the different singers. Gone were the amateur string players and, in their place, some younger musicians willing to follow his lead from the shattering opening D minor chord to the D major conclusion.We heard an occasional cracking from the French Horn but that is just the nature of the beast.

The singers were uniformly excellent, some better than others, but no one spoiled the ensemble nature of the group. In the cast we heard on opening night, we thought the women took home the gold. Soprano Nina Mutalifu, whom we have reviewed before, made a superb Donna Elvira, especially powerful in the excoriating "Mi tradì quell'alma ingrata" as she vented her fury. In the other cast Yushin Chow  presented a slightly softer Donna Elvira, a bit sadder and a bit less enraged; she was particularly effective when begging Don Giovanni to mend his ways in "L'ultima prova dell'amor mio".

Roseann Ackerley's portrayal of Donna Ann was an affecting one. In the opening scene she seemed to be a force to be reckoned with but in Act II, she is tender whilst delaying her marriage to Don Ottavio in "Non mi dir". Her counterpart in the other cast, Jihye Seo, was especially persuasive in the recitativo with her fiancé Don Ottaavio, getting the rhythm of the speech exactly right.

Both Zerlina's were charming and partly innocent, partly manipulative--both Hyune Kwon and Yingjie Zhou. were equally persuasive in "Batti, batti o bel Masetto" and "Vedrai carino".  

The role of Leporello is a great one and gives the opportunity to the singer to garner laughs. At this, Ting-Yi Chen succeeded admirably. In the other cast Brian Alvarado excelled vocally whilst not playing so much for comedy.

In the role of Masetto, we liked both Bo Joseph Wang and Ziliang Hao although their body types encouraged different impressions.  Mr. Wang appeared cuddly and Mr. Hao appeared  endearingly goofy with his lanky and somewhat awkward frame. It is interesting how, in the creation of a character, body type can matter as much as vocal color.

In the role of Don Ottavio, Julio Mascaro adopted the posture of an older father figure with protective instincts toward Donna Anna, patient and helpful with her until driven to the edge by her stalling. We liked his beautifully phrased "Il mio tesoro" so much that we wanted to rewind to Act I and hear the unfortunately cut "Dalla sua pace". In the other cast, Woojin Dong's very youthful appearance did not help his performance, although he sang well.

Now, what about the eponymous Don. We have known many narcissistic sociopaths and can smell one a mile away. Did either of these two excellent singers manifest the charm that such characters employ to ensnare their victims? In this case, he has already ensnared Elvira and is up to the gaslighting stage. His serenade of Elvira's maid "Deh, vieni alla finestra" touched upon his seductive quality as did his "La ci darem la Mano" duet with Zerlina whom he is about to victimize. We believe that the Don must also charm the audience. In spite of his fine singing, Peter Hakjoon Kim didn't quite make it and our other Don, Colin Safely, came a bit closer. 

The Commendatore was played by Rick Agster in one cast and Gennady Vysotsky in the other.

In terms of stage direction, horses were changed midstream, so to speak, and Jenna Stewart made the best out of a concept she inherited.  Blocking was always fine but there was a misguided attempt to bring the story into the 21st c. with contemporary attire and renaming the characters in the program. The Don became a wealthy bachelor and Leporello his assistant.  In our opinion, works from other epochs work best when time and place are respected. This allows the audience members to do the work of comparing--finding differences and similarities with our own epoch. We rail against spoon feeding the audience a concept. We feel more involved when we do the "work" ourselves.

Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte created this work during The Enlightenment when ideas of democracy were floating around. How apt that they should choose to create operas that poke fun at the aristocracy who take themselves too seriously and then elevate the cleverness of the serving class. Dressing all the characters as the original director requested according to her "concept" removed that cornerstone. Everyone looked the same.

Another item in her concept which came completely out of left field is an unnamed lesbian lover of Donna Anna who appeared at key moments to comfort her. We suppose that director (who kindness precludes us from naming)
could not accept the fact that Donna Anna is avoiding commitment to Don Ottavio because he is an elderly friend of her late father and an arranged marriage. So, contrary to so many interpretations of the role, Don Ottavio is definitely not a weakling; he knows he is a father figure and is being circumspect.

With no place for flats in the Center at West Park, the set consisted of a few pieces of furniture, and strangely enough, a ticket booth in the scene in Act I in which the Don and Leporello are speaking together. Lighting by Laura Bremen  comprised a simple wash of white, blue, or red. We think there is need for improvement. 

Producing opera these days is getting more and more difficult with many companies folding or slimming down their seasons. Finding a suitable venue to present one in a valid fashion is a huge undertaking and the fact that the church was packed is evidence of the high esteem in which Amore Opera is held. We are thrilled to see musical values upheld.

Don't be a loser! Get your tickets before they sell out.  Performances continue until Saturday February 3rd.

© meche kroop

Friday, January 26, 2024


Stefan Egerstrom, Joshua Blue, Lindsay Ammann, and Leah Hawkins 

It was a rare opportunity to hear Dvorák's Requiem, a piece commissioned by the Birmingham Festival in England where it premiered in 1891, shortly after the master returned from his long stay in the United States. Our initial interest in the composer was aroused by living next door to his former home on 17th Street. A kindly neighbor invited us into the house and we were thrilled.  The home was demolished and the property was taken over by the hospital down the street during the AIDS epidemic and was later converted into a homeless shelter. We always felt that was a low blow, not giving sufficient respect to a seminal figure in the "musicverse".

Perhaps that disrespect  resonated with us last night when the four singers were positioned behind the orchestra where they could not be seen, at least not from our seat in the orchestra. They could be heard due to the strength and focus of their singing and when the orchestra was in a quiet place, but we would say that the desired balance was not achieved.

Maestro Leon Botstein had a huge chorus (The Bard Festival Chorus, directed by James Bagwell) and orchestra (American Symphony Orchestra) at his command and would have received  praise had he not given the singers such short shrift. That being said, the work is rarely performed and we must be grateful that we had the opportunity to hear it.

It is our mission to write about singers so we will begin there.  Two of the singers are well known to us. Soprano Leah Hawkins won our admiration a few years ago when she was a member of the Lindemann Young Artists Program.  Her voice is full-bodied and expansive with overtones that fill the hall.  Tenor Joshua Blue has been on our radar since his days at Juilliard and we never missed a chance to hear him at the student recitals and operas. To his credit, he never pushed his voice and managed somehow to float above the orchestra. It is a lovely sound and deserved to be heard.

Mezzo-soprano Lindsay Ammann. is new to us and we long to hear her in a friendlier acoustic environment. The sound is rich, full, and satisfying. Stefan Egerstrom's sturdy bass resounded well.  Our favorite movement, the "Hostias", was a quiet one and we had the best opportunity to hear the singers, beginning with Mr. Egerstrom, then Ms. Ammann , then Mr. Blue, and finally Ms. Hawkins.  We also liked the harp played by Ruth Bennett and the way the voices overlapped as if in a fugue. 

The work is a long one and therefore performed with intermission. It struck us as less nationalistic than the works with which we are more familiar. We know him best through his operas (actually, Russalka is the only one we know) and the song cycle Songs My Mother Taught Me, which we loved in German and loved even more the one time we heard it sung in Czech. His music definitely belongs to the Romantic Period. 

This work is a somber one, as befits a Requiem, and very different from the other works we have heard. The opening "Requiem aeternum"  began with a spare melody but a sudden eruption from the chorus let us know that we were in for a wild ride. There were frequent sharp bursts of fortissimi and a sobbing motif. The "Graduale" introduced a brief swirling motif of four notes-- a gruppetto. Voices bounced off each other and at a couple points our unconscious led us into Wagnerian territory which we are unable to pinpoint.

We particularly enjoyed the quietude of the gentle "Quid sum miser". We liked the flute solo in the "Recordare, Jesu pie". The "Lacrimosa" involved some insistent violins. The "Offertorium" had a lot of variety--a gentle opening that built and swelled and a lively rhythmic section. The "Sanctus" was written in 3/4 time.  The "Pie Jesu" had a lovely chorale of wind instruments.  The "Agnus Dei" that closed the work finally allowed us to hear the soprano.

We couldn't help wondering what the work might sound like if the orchestra were in the pit. Perhaps it is just my taste but we felt the singers and the text merited more importance.

© meche kroop

Monday, January 22, 2024


 Tenor Matthew Polenzani

It is surely a capstone of one's career to be publicly honored with an award, especially one from Opera Index. It is perhaps a more private honor to witness the next generation of singers, knowing how many have learned from you, directly or indirectly. Mr. Polenzani, a much loved tenor, is at the peak of his brilliant career and his gracious unassuming manner must be an inspiration to upcoming opera singers.

The occasion was last night's Opera Index Gala, at which event the denizens of Planet Opera gather every year to honor a distinguished artist and to celebrate the prizewinners of their competition. Unlike open competitions at which observers form their own opinions and argue the merits of their favorite singers, Opera Index's competition takes place behind closed doors. 

We think it fair to say that this year's winners were well selected from among 400 applicants and are totally deserving of their awards. Singers are notoriously financially strapped, what with the cost of lessons, tuition, coaching and such. Those donating funds to Opera Index can be confident that their funding goes a long way toward helping these young artists to achieve their goals.

We heard seven promising young artists artists last night, all outstanding in their own way. Piano support was provided by the well known collaborative pianist Kamal Khan who slides gracefully from one period of music to the next. A warm welcome by Opera Index President Jane Shaulis, who put together a most satisfying. evening, was warmly received. Let us tell you about it without reference to the size of  each individual's award, as is our wont.

The program opened with baritone Ben Reisinger performing everyone's favorite drinking song "O vin, dissippe la tristesse" from Thomas' Hamlet. Glass in hand, he illustrated the character's exuberance with a lovely resonant texture, fine phrasing and sufficient variety of tempi  to hold our interest. We love the way his voice opens up at the upper end  of the register.

Following, we heard the adorable soprano Sofia Gotch singing "Je veux vivre" from Gounod's Romeo et Juliette. She conveyed all the breathless enthusiasm (which takes enormous breath control) of a young woman bursting with life. She paced the aria well and evinced bright clean top notes. There were some trills that gave us thrills and chills! The command of the French style and diction were remarkable.

Tenor Travon Walker began his performance seated on the edge of the stage, accurately reflecting the despair of young Sam in "Lonely House" from Kurt Weill's 20th c. opera Street Scene. Mr. Walker, having established the mood of his character, proceeded to get up and walk around, delivering his aria with fine technique and (gasp) understandable English. We enjoyed the way he used dynamic variation and felt emotionally affected--a good thing.

It is quite a challenge for any young singer to portray an older person but bass Younggwang Park achieved it in his performance of "Vi ravisso", Count Rodolfo's nostalgic aria from Bellini's La sonnambula. We sensed a connection with the depth of the character as much as we perceived the depth of tone. As is common in Bellini's writing, the demands on the singer are vocally great, especially in terms of the breath control needed for his long lyric phrases. Mr. Park handled it deftly, especially in the runs.

Soprano Luna Seongeun Park (no relation) gave a spirited performance of "Chacun le sait", the regimental song from Donizetti's La fille du regiment in which Marie, the titular character, expresses her pride in the regiment that has raised her. We observed a consistency through the registers, culminating in a pure tone at the top. We liked the smoothness in negotiating the portamenti.

Bass-baritone Byeongmin Gil proved himself to be a forceful interpreter of Procido's joy at returning to his beloved homeland after a period of exile in "O tu Palermo" from Verdi's I vespri Siciliani. Variety in dynamics and a keen sense of pacing did justice to this showpiece. The texture of Gil's voice created a sound that was sufficiently mature.

Closing the musical portion of the evening was Yeongtaek Yang's impassioned delivery of "Nemico della patria" from Giordano's Andrea Chenier. He effectively portrayed Gérard's cold calculating nature as he lists the accusations toward Chenier, accusations that he may not truly believe. The sound was full and the menace was palpable.  Mr. Yang built the emotion to an intense crescendo at the end.

This fulfilling program was followed by the award ceremony and dinner. This was indeed a memorable night! We might close by urging you to join Opera Index in supporting these gifted young artists. The membership fee is extremely modest.

© meche kroop

Sunday, January 21, 2024


 Maestro Chris Fecteau, Jonathan Harris, Clara Lisle, and Morton Cahn

Last night we felt transported back to the 19th c. when artists and their followers gathered around a piano and created music at home. We adore this manner of appreciating music up close and personal and have created many such salons in our own home. What a pleasure to not only hear artists perform but also to be able to socialize with them and other music lovers.

Our hostess for the evening was the lovely artist, mezzo-soprano, and cat-lover Barrett Cobb whose magnificent townhouse gave pleasurable stimulation to the eye. So many senses were involved--the ear, the eye, and tastebuds too, with food and drink courtesy of Maestro Chris Fecteau and his lovely wife Karen Rich, those good folks from Dell'Arte Opera Ensemble. The apt theme of the evening was "Among Friends".

The multi-talented Maestro, chef and connoisseur of wine, was our accompanist for the evening and the musical artists comprised soprano Clara Lisle, bass-baritone Jonathan Harris, and double bass player Morton Cahn. We were especially delighted that the artists introduced their selections and told a little about each one.

The beautiful Ms. Lisle opened the program with a very fine performance of Musetta's Act I aria from Puccini's La Bohême. All the vocal nuances and gestures were there resulting in a most believable performance, sans sets and sans costume.

Not to be outdone, Mr. Harris tackled a concert aria by Mozart, the ardent "Per questa bella mano" with Mr. Cahn performing the obligato. Mr. Harris does not lack for flexibility as demonstrated in some fine melismatic passages reminding one of a vocalise. He also deftly handled the wide leaps which Mozart often gave to his sopranos (i.e. Fiordiligi).

Ms. Lisle showed off some excellent German diction in a trio of songs by Hugo Wolf. We find Wolf's songs less accessible than those of Brahms, Schubert, and Schumann but not less interesting.. Our favorite of the three was "In dem Schatten mine Locken" from the composer's Spänischer Liederbuch. The warm and tender colors of Ms. Lisle's  voice were matched by Mo. Fecteau's piano.

The Allegro section of Bach's Sonata in G minor, written for viola da gamba, was given an attractive reading by Mr. Cahn.

Having recently heard an entire evening of Czech songs, our ears were quite ready for four folk songs set by Petr Eben, a Czech composer unknown to us. In spite of being composed in the 20th c. they are melodic as folk songs usually are and were charmingly sung by Mr. Harris. The final two were about abandoned women and it is to Mr. Harris' credit that he colored his voice differently for the  one who was in despair and the other one who was ready to move on to a new lover.

Mo. Fecteau gave a most expressive performance of a movement from A Novel composed by Ukrainian Sergei Bortkewiecz, also unknown to us.

Leonard Bernstein set a poem by Walt Whitman entitled "To What You Said" and we found it prosy and not very interesting. The vocal obligato was taken over by Mr. Cahn.

We far preferred the piano- bass duet entitled "Skipper's Call which was written by Ms. Cobb herself! We know what it's like to write music that you never get to hear performed so we shared in Ms. Cobb's joy upon hearing it for the first time.

Ms. Lisle performed "Le Chat" in fine French.  It was commissioned by Dell'Arte from Ellen Mandel. Mr. Harris had the audience in stitches with Libby Larsen's "The Apple Song". He picked up all the suggestive inferences and capped it all off by throwing off his coat. If you never heard this very American song, we urge you to Google the lyrics.

The program ended with Mendelssohn's melodic "Salve Regina" which allowed Ms. Lisle to show off her bright top notes. Mr. Harris performed one of Poulenc's non-ironic songs, the timely "Priez pour paix" in which Mo. Fecteau's piano echoed the contemplative mood.

It was a varied and altogether satisfying evening. We wish to alert you to some upcoming Dell'Arte events so--as they say--stay tuned!

© meche kroop 

Sunday, January 14, 2024


 Eduardo Gutierrez, Saul Ibarra, Elizabeth Pope, and François Gizycki

The sanctuary at Jt. Johns in the Village was "standing room only", a rare condition for a vocal recital in Manhattan. Apparently, word had gotten out that a remarkable young artist named Elizabeth Pope would be performing a challenging program of arias. We are happy to tell you that the promise was fulfilled. We love hearing singers at the start of their professional careers and following them as they mature and become successful on the world's stages.

Yes, the program was a challenging one, covering several periods and several languages. As extensive as was this survey of soprano arias, the audience begged for more and, trooper as she is, Ms. Pope gifted the audience with three encores.

Let us begin by saying that she is an engaging young woman who spoke easily to the audience, showing neither stiffness nor reserve. This created a welcoming atmosphere that drew us in collectively. Having come from a family of musicians                 (all present for the concert) and having received excellent vocal training, this young artist "picked up the ball and ran with it". It was clear that a lot of work and study had gone into the preparation of a most ambitious program but Ms. Pope succeeded in making it all appear effortless, even as she gave her all.

The program opened with "Tornami a vagheggiar" from Händel's Alcina which immediately gave evidence of a bright pure tone and a facility with ornamentation. The trill was clean as were the staccato passages. There was a nice contrast between the sections. Along the same lines was "Armate face et anguibus" from Vivaldi's oratorio Juditha Triumphans, in which the artist tore into this vengeance aria with a vengeance, making us think of the Queen of the Night. Her superlative collaborative pianist Saúl Ibarra was as undaunted by the racing piano score as she was by the florid decoration of the vocal line.

Was that the same artist switching easily to a 19th c. work-- Jules Massenet's Hérodiade? In "Il eat doux, il est bon" she showed us an adolescent girl besotted with the prophet Jean, and did so in fine French. 

This was far more effective dramatically than Violetta's first act scena "É strano..Sempre Libera" from Verdi's La Traviata. The vocalism was fine but, in spite of the generous use of gesture and facial expression, we were not convinced that this was a desperate woman weighing the choice between a chance at love and frantic partying. We think a few years of emotional experience on the part of the artist will result in a more convincing portrayal. We admit that we are very demanding of our Violettas since she is our favorite operatic character. Tenor Fernando Silva-Gorbea made an all-too-brief appearance as Alfredo but there was insufficient stage time to establish any chemistry between them.

Far more believable was her Nedda, the unfortunate heroine of Leoncavallo's        I Pagliacci. As Ms. Pope sang "Qual fiamma...Stridono lassú", we could feel the yearning for freedom of a young woman in unhappy marital "captivity", envying the birds overhead. This gave us optimism that the dramatic skills are there, just waiting to be coaxed out by a good director.

We felt the same about Fiordiligi's aria "Come scoglio" from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. We wish that portraying a young woman with intended characterological firmness might come a bit more easily to Ms. Pope than it did. Perhaps negotiating those huge leaps in the score took a great deal of concentration. Focus on the character may come later as she develops. Perhaps it was the sophisticated sequined gown that was partly at fault, fighting, as it were, with the image of a teenage girl.

On the other hand, it did not distract from the half-mad desperation of Margherita from Boito's Mefistofele as she confusedly tries to deal with her guilt for poisoning her mother and drowning her baby. We haven't often heard "L'altra notte in fondo al mare" but we found it convincingly moving.

The program closed with an excellent performance of movements I and II from Heitor Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasileiras no.5. We were impressed by the fact that Ms. Pope herself arranged the work for the cello, played by Francois Gizycki, and guitar, played by Eduardo Gutteres. In this work she achieved the heights of expressivity, especially in the vocalise part in which the cello emphasized the memorable theme whilst the guitar filled in the harmonies. Even more astounding was the humming part which left us amazed. Whilst Part I is often heard, Part II (Dança) is less commonly performed. The excitement made a fine contrast with the tender vocalise.

The first encore was a Maria Grever song "Te quiero, dijiste" which Grever wrote for a child she lost. It is a beautiful song with which we are quite familiar and we were happy to hear it once more. Following another encore, a song by Debussy, the audience wanted more. We got a repeat of the Bachianas Brasilieras and finally the audience was satisfied.

For any more, we will have to wait for Ms. Pope's next recital. We will be eager to watch her growth as an artist.

© meche kroop

Sunday, January 7, 2024


 The Gilbert and Sullivan Players presents THE MIKADO

Dank was the night and gloomy were our spirits; but three minutes of Arthur Sullivan's tunes and our smile might have lit up the stage of The Kaye Playhouse. For three hours we were transported to the Japan of Victorian Era England. It hadn't been long since Japan had become open to the West and the English were fascinated by Japanese artifacts.

Indeed, in the clever prologue devised by David Auxier-Loyola, we get to see an imagined scene in the offices of the D'Oyly Carte Company in which W.S. Gilbert (played by Mr. Auxier himself) gets his idea for The Mikado from examining a selection of Japanese objets d'art. Gilbert and his composer partner Arthur Sullivan (played by David Macaluso) had just premiered a hit and were looking for inspiration for their next creation.

Perhaps Mr. Auxier was inspired by Mike Leigh's 1999 film Topsy-Turvy which we highly recommend to all lovers of Gilbert and Sullivan since their tempestuous but artistically rewarding partnership was given a most satisfying treatment.

Getting back to the music that so rapidly changed our mood, Maestro Joseph Rubin put his orchestra through their lively paces with conductorial glee. We have been humming the tunes all night and those ear-worms have sustained that smile we spoke of. There is a reason why certain works of art become classics; in the case of music theater, the public wants tunes and rhythm, married to an engaging story with lyrics that fit the music, just as "the punishment fits the crime".

Although we despair of attempts by narcissistic directors to make their mark on the classics and thereby wind up destroying them (i.e. the current production of Bizet's Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera), we have no objection to the little touches employed in this production to bring the work into the 21st century. Do not worry, Dear Reader, Nanki-Poo does not carry a cell phone. We do believe it is customary for the director of this operetta to update The Mikado's hit number (which we call "I've Got a Little List") to include contemporary references to politics and social customs. We are not going to spoil it for you, Dear Reader; you will have to go and hear for yourself, be you lucky enough to get a ticket.

David Wannen made a fine, funny, and arrogant Mikado and his excellent performance was matched by the entire cast. We particularly enjoyed the Nanki-Poo of tenor John Charles McLaughlin who was more than commonly affecting in his creation of a young innocent Candide type youth. His "A Wand'ring Minstrel I" was sung with pure tone, lovely phrasing, and dramatic conviction.

As his beloved Yum-Yum, Rebecca L. Hargrove delivered one of the best ever examples of female vanity in her major aria "The Sun Whose Rays are All Ablaze". She provided plenty of humor in her off-again on-again intention to wed our hero, dependent upon whether she would be buried alive, a situation handled with dry British humor.

The part of Koko, Lord High Executioner of Titipu, was portrayed by Mr. Macaluso with admirable physicality that garnered much laughter from the audience. His desperate courtship of Katisha could be considered a lesson in clowning. This made his tender aria "Willow, Tit-Willow" even more soulful by contrast.

The character of Pooh-Bah is a matchless vehicle for comic acting and Matthew Wages more than lived up to the challenge with physical humor to spare. Just look at the gestures he employs as he describes his multiple offices and his greedy eyes as he extracts bribes without compunction.

None of these characters could be considered evil, just opportunistic. The character who comes closest to evil is the unpleasant Katisha (played by Hannah Holmes), the "Daughter-in-law Elect", but even she has a softer side. It was fun watching her melt to Koko's love song in contrast with her customary rage. This reminds us that miserable people are most often suffering from a lack of love. When she interrupts The Mikado's entrance with her insistent "daughter-in-law elect" we see the attention-seeking as an attempt to compensate for being rejected earlier by Nanki-Poo. She knows she is unattractive and therefore shows excessive pride in her shoulder and elbow. Her costume reminded us of that of Carabosse, the evil fairy in the ballet Sleeping Beauty.

Which reminds us to credit Quinto Ott for the colorful and apt Costume Design. The blend of Victorian fashion with Japanese elements is most successful. The female chorus is decked out in high Victorian style with bustles and exposed crinolettes. The male chorus ("We are Gentlemen of Japan") is dressed in typical Victorian gentlemen fashion with some Japanese decoration.

Anshuman Bhatia designed the simple but effective set with Koko's tailor shop stage right and the Titipu railway station stage left, lent verisimiltude by the sound effect of the approaching train, heralding the arrival of the "Three Little Maids from School" and later The Mikado and Katisha.

Elizabeth Cernadas had the role of Pitti-Sing and Peep-Bo was played by Sarah Hutchison.

Mr. Auxier did a fine job directing and choreographing, and Maestro Albert Bergeret served as Music Director. Kudos to all!

Since we always need some minor detail to grumble about, it would be some ineffective enunciation on the part of the chorus and some of the female performers. Surtitles would have been welcome since Gilbert's text is so very clever. It seems a shame to miss a word of it.

© meche kroop