Livermore Valley Opera

The Magic Flute at Livermore Valley Opera

MF rehearsal 3* Notes *
Livermore Valley Opera's The Magic Flute (Act I pictured with Liisa Davila, Megan Potter, Leandra Ramm, Victor Cardamone, and Alex DeSocio) opened last night with a delightful and well-characterized cast of singers. 

The English-language production, directed by Yefim Maizel, is straightforward and the set is simple, a platform with three stairs and a background with video projections. There were also a pair of doors that came in to change the space. The backdrops that represented the outdoors looked more fairytale-inspired, while the interiors had more of a video game from the early nineties feel. The costumes were often draped and Grecian though Tamino and the Queen of the Night looked more like they were from Mozart's time.

Alexander Katsman held the small orchestra together, though there certainly were times when the flute and horns were exposed and not in tune. The main attraction of the evening was certainly the singing. Bankhead Theater is an intimate space and everyone was very audible, especially given how small the orchestra was.

Bass Kirk Eichelberger was convincing as Sarastro, the acoustics were very good for his low notes and it was impressive hearing the depths of his voice. Baritone Alex DeSocio is an adorable Papageno, his sound is very resonant and pleasing. He was funny and sprightly.

MF photo 6Soprano Shawnette Sulker's chirping, bright sound was almost too pretty for the Queen of the Night (pictured in Act II with Phoebe Chee) she just bordered on shrill on the run up to the hardest passages of both her big arias, but seemed to effortlessly and beautifully hit the high notes. Soprano Phoebe Chee is a robust and dramatic Pamina, well-supported and clear. I'd really like to hear her as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, which Liveremore Valley Opera is doing next season. Tenor Victor Cardamone makes for a very fine Prince Tamino, such a lovely, powerful sound, with such ease.

*Tattling *
The audience was focused and pretty quiet. I did hear some electronic noise when Papageno's pan pipes responded to Tamino's flute call.

I was a bit flustered upon my arrival to the theater as I had been running late all day, and didn't manage to put my leftover tiramisu in my purse before entering. One of the theater staff rightly took it from me, but I wasn't able to discern where I was to pick it up after the performance, and abandoned the cake as it was rather late and raining a lot.

The Adler Fellows in The Stronger & The Impresario

Adlers2010 * Notes * 
Half a dozen Adler Fellows put on Hugo Weisgall's The Stronger and Mozart's The Impresario at Livermore Valley Opera last Sunday. Pianist Tamara Sanikidze played the astringent music with aplomb, and Leah Crocetto managed to command attention despite how unsympathetic the character of Estelle could be. Maya Lahyani acted the mute role of Lisa convincingly, and without being reduced to a mime.

Allen Periello and Tamara Sanikidze were entirely adorable in their highly choreographed performance of the overture to The Impresario (Der Schauspieldirektor) on piano. This involved both high-fives and switching who played the high notes, all to hilarious effect. Periello played most of the rest of the opera by himself, quite prettily, and Sanikidze joined him again for the finale. The three singers, Austin Kness, Susannah Biller, and Sarah Gartland, took on German, French, and English accents, respectively. It was exceedingly silly and came off well. The singing was fine, though the ladies did get a bit shrill at times, though that fit the dynamic of their rivalry perfectly.

* Tattling * 
The audience was uncommonly attentive, no electronic noise was noted, and no one talked or whispered during the music. There was much laughing during the second opera.

I later heard that they were supposed to have three operas and not just two, the third featuring Ryan Belongie and Maya Lahyani. Curiously enough, Belongie was listed on Livermore Valley Opera's official site as one of the singers in the performance, though he did not appear on stage.