* Notes *
West Edge Opera's L'incoronazione di Poppea (Act II with Christine Brandes and Emma McNairy pictured left, photograph by Jamie Buschbaum) closed last Sunday at the Performing Arts Theater at El Cerrito High School. Maestro Gilbert Martinez lead half a dozen period instrumentalists in a neat, compressed performance. The violins had a slight tendency to be out of tune, but otherwise the playing was crisp.
The singing was strong. Bryan Thorsett made for a funny Arnalta, his singing is lovely, and one only wanted to hear more from him. Ryan Belongie sang Ottone with grace. Tonia D'Amelio was a charming Drucilla. Erin Neff made for an incisive-toned Ottavia. Emma McNairy was a cheery, girlish Poppea. Her sound is bright and sweet. As Nerone, Christine Brandes' sound is a bit compressed at the top, and somewhat harsh, but this was perfectly fine for the role.
The production, directed by Mark Streshinsky, offered many repeated images. One appreciated how this did help condense the action and cut down on time needed for scene changes.
* Tattling *
I was entirely unable to find my seat, O-A17. As it turns out, they had taken the seat out to accommodate patrons in wheelchairs. The house manager was very kind about the whole thing, apologizing, and also re-seating me nearby.