Monday, November 10, 2008


Fiorella has a nostalgic fondness for Rossini's Cenerentola (Cinderella)because years ago she participated in an excerpt from it. Besides, Rossini's battiness has always appealed to Fio, who has something of a batty streak herself.

Fiorella and Husband thoroughly enjoyed Saturday night's Austin Lyric Opera performance. Because Rossini's music is so frenetic and the libretto is so sparse (the same phrases repeated about fifty times, building and building and building), constant inventive action is a must. Yes, it's comic romp.

The voices were first rate. They had to be, to handle Rossini's exuberance, yet keep up the pace. Agility was the name of the game. Top-notch was Sandra Piques Eddy as Cinderella, a true mezzo with deep, plummy tones, not a soprano singing down because she couldn't make the cut. Every syllable, every pitch in every wiggly melody line was clearly articulated, The tenor hero, Ramiro (Michele Angelini), was also quite good, with beautiful high notes, although stage miking or something lost him every now and then. Baritone John Boehr, playing Dandini, a Figaro kind of role, was also great, although not quite as articulate. The audience's favorite was probably the bombastic bass Magnifico (Steven Condy), who provided a wonderfully bravura comic performance. Almost sinister, bass Alidoro (Kritsopher Irmiter) anchored the cast with what struck Fio as overtones of Zauberflote's Sarastro.

Before the opera started, the audience was asked to stand and sing the national anthem, which Fio thinks was a common practice at movie theaters during the '30s. As you can imagine with a theater full of music-conscious people, it sounded good. Not like at office birthday parties, where half the staff can't carry a tune. A few brave soprano voices even went up the decorative octave on "land of the free-ee".

During the overture, the cast presented a mime show that was supposed to establish the back story. Husband thought it worked great, but it just confused Fiorella. The opera was reset into 1930's Hollywood, which, again, Husband liked and Fio didn't.

All in all, the sheer stamina of the singers overwhelmed Fiorella. So much intensive coloratura crammed into so little time.

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