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Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Opera
ONE-NIGHT STAND AT MMF'S ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 15, 2016
Mozart’s Opera “Abduction from the Seraglio” has a long reputation as being tough for singers, and it was with some trepidation that I entered the Mendocino Music Festival’s massive white tent July 15 to hear and see the new production from the 30th season. Not to Worry. Conducted by Festival Arti...
Opera
FROTHY FROLICKING AT CINNABAR'S MAGICAL FLUTE
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, June 11, 2016
Though having just two acts, Mozart’s Opera “The Magic Flute” encompasses a jumbled fairy tale plot with complicated staging and myriad performers in demanding vocal roles. Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater took up the arduous challenge of this 1791 work, among Mozart’s last, in a series of performances ...
Opera
OPERA BUFFA HI JINX IN ROSSINI'S BARBER AT MENDO FESTIVAL
by Ken Bullock
Friday, July 17, 2015
During his July 17 lecture before the sole Mendocino Music Festival performance of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, stage director Eugene Brancoveanu spoke of Commedia Dell’Arte. Mr. Brancoveanu, who sang the baritone title role of Figaro, alluded to the stylized clowning that is sometimes p...
Opera
SIR JOHN'S VISUAL FEAST IN CINNABAR THEATER FALSTAFF PRODUCTION
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Verdi’s operas tend to have a visceral impact on listeners, the connection forged by emphasizing starkly realistic human emotions and glorious tunes for singers and richly hued orchestra writing. But not in his last opera written in 1893: Falstaff. In only the Italian master's second comedy, Fals...
Opera
A PROVOCATIVE DON GIOVANNI AT MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 18, 2014
At each Mendocino Music Festival a key evening is given over to a staged opera in the big tent, and last year Rossini’s frothy “Il Signor Bruschino” was an audience hit but hardly comprehensive operatic fare. Times change. Mozart’s weighty opera Don Giovanni was given a propulsive but often confus...
Opera
HILARIOUS "MARRIAGE OF FIGARO" AT CINNABAR
by Nicki Bell
Friday, May 30, 2014
The Cinnabar Theater mounted a delightful, madcap, rambunctious, completely charming, extremely funny, very classy production of Mozartʼs opera "The Marriage of Figaro" from May 30 to June 15. With the feel of a 1920s Upstairs/Downstairs farce, it was sung in English and easily understood. Tho...
Opera
POWERFUL OPENING NIGHT FOR CINNABAR'S CARMEN
by Vaida Falconbridge
Saturday, June 01, 2013
When "Carmen" debuted at the Opera Comique in 1875, it was poorly received. Its composer, Georges Bizet, died a few months later, thinking he had written another failure. Now widely considered the most popular opera in the world, "Carmen" was excellently performed and given an enthusiastic reception...
Opera
OPERATIC TWIN BILL OPENS AT SONOMA STATE
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 07, 2013
Two one-act operas--Haydn's "The Deserted Island" and Vaughan Williams' "Riders to the Sea"--currently being mounted by Sonoma State University's music, theater and dance departments, reflect the University's usual innovative staging and production. On the Feb. 7 opening night Person Theater's 400 ...
Opera
TERRIFIC SINGING AND COLORFUL STAGING HIGHLIGHT CINNABAR'S DON GIOVANNI
by Richard Riccardi
Friday, March 23, 2012
Question: where do dedicated North Bay opera lovers go to experience great performances when San Francisco Opera’s season ends? The quick answer is the Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma. Cinnabar Theater’s latest production, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, K. 527, is a splendid experience that opened a nine-sho...
OPERA REVIEW
Cinnabar Theater / Saturday, June 01, 2013
Cast and production personnel listed in May 31 Calendar.

Soprano Rebecca Krouner

POWERFUL OPENING NIGHT FOR CINNABAR'S CARMEN

by Vaida Falconbridge
Saturday, June 01, 2013

When "Carmen" debuted at the Opera Comique in 1875, it was poorly received. Its composer, Georges Bizet, died a few months later, thinking he had written another failure. Now widely considered the most popular opera in the world, "Carmen" was excellently performed and given an enthusiastic reception by the sell-out crowd at Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma on opening night May 31.

The opera is scheduled for several more performances through June 16, with sold-out ticket sales already--so much so that another performance has been added for Wednesday evening, June 12, at 7:30 p.m. Note: This is code for "Don't wait too long to get your tickets."

For those who have not already attended a performance at Cinnabar Theater, it is a small house that perfectly lends itself to intimate stagings. The audience is so close to the performers that it almost feels like they could be absorbed into the drama before their eyes. None of that "barrier" feeling one necessarily gets in a big opera house with its grand stage, brocade curtains, and deep orchestra pit. All Cinnabar events are in English.

Right from the start, soldiers, flirtatious women, smugglers, townspeople, and merchants all mixed it up with plenty of activity and stage business, such as pickpockets targeting distracted soldiers on the make with highly cooperative cigarette girls. The entire cast, including several children from Cinnabar's youth program, filled the plaza next to the cigarette factory. Cinnabar performs this opera in English, so there was no need for supertitles.

We meet most of the characters in the first few minutes we get to meet the Gypsy Carmen herself. Played by mezzo Rebecca Krouner--who is altogether vocally, physically and temperamentally correct for the role--Carmen comes out dressed in fiery red, as she is throughout most of the opera, as opposed to the khaki of the soldiers' uniforms and the mostly earth tones worn by the rest of the cast, who are nonetheless well-costumed. By the second half of the "Habanera," Carmen's head scarf came off and her long black hair tumbled out.

Ms. Krouner is possessed of a powerful voice of wide range and dynamics, with a slightly smoky timbre and a masterful transition into an ultra-rich and exciting low register, where she has ample opportunity to demonstrate in her several arias. Perfect casting here.

Don Jose is ably sung by tenor Mark Kratz, although the true beauty and color of his voice didn't really start to shine through until the "Flower Song" and duo scene with Carmen in Act Two. He portrayed well the tortured, obsessive character of the soldier who abandons his career, honor, fiancée and family for love of the free-spirited Gypsy girl. Micaela, Don Jose's childhood sweetheart and fiancée, is beautifully sung by Kelly Britt, who has a laser-focused, steely color to her voice that carries well all the way up to her clear ringing high B's in her big aria, and gives conviction to Micaela's courage.

Baritone Jason Detwiler knocks it out of the park singing Escamillo, the matinee-idol toreador character. He brings a tall, compelling stage persona to the role, as well as dark, burnished, thrilling vocal texture and exciting high notes.

The secondary singing roles are also well cast: Will Hart Meyer as Morales, Paul Cheak as Zuniga, Miguel Evangelista and Brandon Casbeer as smugglers, sopranos Julia Hathaway and Kimberly Anderson as Carmen's nubile friends and fellow smugglers--they all have well-schooled voices with lovely tone and excellent projection. All the singers displayed uniformly clear, understandable diction.

Set design was minimal but effective. With just a few added accessories, the stage quickly took on the look of a town plaza, the tavern of Lillas Pastia, a mountain pass, and close proximity to the Seville bullring. The starkness of the set particularly lent itself to the dramatic death scene at the end of the opera. Blocking was very good and very detailed--it was never static onstage for two and a half hours. Conductor Mary Chun and the 11-piece orchestra were excellent, keeping good pacing throughout, and never overpowered the singers.

All in all, a very impressive production, and another well-deserved feather-in-the-cap for Cinnabar.