Sun 7 May 2006 3pm
New Yorkers who were not there missed a treat this weekend. Two of the three Trittico operas were great value at $30 per seat. In the small but adequate Danny Kaye hall we heard two fully staged works Puccini would have been proud of. Il Tabarro was set traditionally with most of the stage being a sideways barge on the Seine and the Paris skyline horizon of dusk beyond and a huge full moon.
The production of Schicchi was unique and original in several ways. Making a boon of the small stage, somebody had the brilliant idea of 'parking' Buoso's body within the frame of an old portrait up on a mantle (where it slipped on cue with dictation of the new will!). Additionally, rather than the skyline of Fiorenze, we have baby dolls' houses near the foot lights including many 'rooms with views' as well as Brunelleschi's Duomo, Santa Croce, Piazza della Signoria and Tower of Giotto.
As most readers know, the Trittico can be a difficult to mount as a Ring opera. Each is a gem of the theatre and nobody should have been disappointed at the members of the Mannes Opera, conducted by Joseph Colaneri, directed by Laura Alley on sets designed by Roger Hanna.
All twenty or more singers were excellent but stand-out performances came from Vira Slywotzky as Giorgetta; Young Joo An as Michele (and doctor/notary in Schicchi); Yonghoon Lee as Luigi; Andrew Ahlquist as the street singer; Chee Shen Tan as Rinuccio; Marcelo Guzzo as Schcchi; Sookyung Ahn as Lauretta.
The orchestra was strong, balanced and well led. The acoustics and size of the hall produced one of the loudest and most immediate opera experiences I have even had. Goose bumps all over on several occasions - more than the last three full operas at the Met, not that such comparisons are fair.
Congratulations to this small company. Professional standards at amateur prices.