Bwog’s theater connoisseur Kyra Bloom reviews the dress rehearsal of CUPAL’s Fall 2013 Opera Untapped. The next showing is Saturday at 5 PM in the Milstein Theater—tickets are $5 at the TIC.
Wednesday night, I ventured over to LL2 of the Diana to watch the tech/dress/first-time-in-the-theatre rehearsal of this semester’s Opera Untapped. Needless to say, there were a few minor issues that stopped the flow of the performance, but I’m certain all transitions will be seamless by opening night.
Opera Untapped began as a CUPAL Special Project headed up by two seniors last year, but the talented and creative executive board, Izzy Livorni, BC’15, and Hannah Gorman, CC’16, have done the community an enormous service by making this series of opera scenes a permanent performance club like any other. Congratulations to them for leading such a daunting project to success. Whatever else may be said about the performances, it is really a joy to watch college students, with music career aspirations or otherwise, sing and play these celebrated scenes.
The program began with a rendition of the Rosina/Figaro scene from Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia sung by Christine Rosenblatt, BC’16, and Isaac Assor, CC’14. Assor’s exaggerated facial expressions and gestures read well in an operatic context, and his voice is always enjoyable. Rosenblatt is lovely to watch onstage, however the role of Rosina is not necessarily appropriate for her voice type. Her mid-range lacks some volume (as evident in the scene’s recitative) but with age will grow to match her shimmering higher register.
Sara Cohn’s, BC’15, direction was cute and appropriate in the first scene and continued in the second: the card scene from Bizet’s Carmen. Sophie Lewis, BC’15, and Nicole Sweet, BC’17 sound beautiful in harmony together, and Sweet in particular is so engaging to watch, even when she is simply listening to another character sing. Devon Mehring, CC/Juilliard’15, plays Carmen, and though she obviously has a well-trained voice, her French vowels were inconsistent and distracting.
The program continued with a scene from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, featuring the bold-voiced Annalise Perricone. Perricone has a strong voice for her small stature, and she delivered Donna Anna’s melodies with poise and clear intention. This scene and the following, from Handel’s Giulio Cesare, unfortunately had the weakest direction in the program. Livorni’s blocking for a scene from La Cenerentola was inventive and interesting, proving a knack for direction and an understanding for humor.
By far the most enjoyable scene of the evening, however, was from Mozart’s Il Nozze di Figaro, directed by Christopher Browner, CC’16. Kyle McCormick, CC’14, played an adorable Cherubino, proving herself as a mezzo with a definite aptitude for pants roles. Anna Dugan, CC/Juilliard’14, and Devon Mehring as the Countess and Susanna comically dressed McCormick up as a female. Dugan, although arguably one of the strongest singers at this school, was given only a small role, and I would have liked to have seen more of her. Interestingly, Browner also integrated classical guitar into McCormick’s “Voi, Che Sapete,” an unexpected and exciting twist. Guitarist Javier Llaca supported the aria beautifully from his post on stage left.
The final scene was a mélange of Gilbert and Sullivan pieces, beginning with “Three Little Maids” from The Mikado, featuring Nicole Sweet, Rebecca Fisher, CC’17, and Sophie Laruelle, CC’17. All three have pretty voices, and I look forward to seeing them in larger roles in the future. Angela Scorese, BC’16, sings Mabel’s “Poor Wand’ring One” from The Pirates of Penzance and flies gracefully through the coloratura with a sweet, clear tone. The full company joins Stepan Atamian, CC’16, onstage for a rendition of “Modern Major-General” which ends the performance on a light-hearted note.
The New Opera Workshop’s Fall 2013 production certainly had its weak links, but was undeniably enjoyable overall. The scenes were, for the most part, age and voice appropriate and provided a smattering from popular operas that even a non-music lover could handle and appreciate. Adding a German scene in would have been nice, but perhaps we can hope for that in next semester’s performance. This evening of music is an incredible undertaking, and I hope interest and participation remain strong enough for Columbia to have an opera project long after its current leaders have graduated.
Image via CUPAL’s Facebook event