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Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
OPERA REVIEW

Rossini Opera Cast Curtain Call July 19 at Festival

ROSSINI'S FROTHY FARCE AN AUDIENCE HIT AT MENDO FESTIVAL

by Terry McNeill
Monday, July 22, 2013

Mendocino Music Festival’s Alan Pollack usually has some musical surprises up his conductor’s sleeve, and at the July 19 Festival opera production he produced a unique coupling of lecture and music, set against the framework of a rarely-mounted 1813 opera.

As a way of extending Rossini’s frothy farce “Il Signor Bruschino” (the accidental son) Mr. Pollack preceded the one-act opera by speaking about enjoying opera to the audience from the stage, spotlighting Rossini and the composer’s famous quips and gourmet triumphs, and finally speculating why the Rossini didn’t compose much in his final 30 years. It was an enlightening speech but almost totally unrelated to the opera, which came after a short intermission.

Well, this opera and its inane plot really didn’t need much description. The common operatic switching of personages and people hiding behind the sofa prevailed, though unique moments were enjoyed when a motorized golf cart made several appearances on stage, driving in and out of a black curtain separating the singers and minimal sets from the small orchestra at the rear of the tent. I heard Erin Neff’s voice amplified at times, but the rest of eight-person cast was “au natural” and the orchestra’s volume and balances were excellent in the tent. Singing was in Italian and supertitles were projected on a drape above the stage. Recitatives (in English) were stylishly accompanied by an electric harpsichord

Baritone Eugene Brancoveanu and bass baritone Paul Thompson both sang convoluted parts with conviction, as did tenor Sergio R. Gonzalez and soprano Kelly Britt in the roles of young lovers Florville and Sofia. Michael Jankosky sang briefly as the long incarcerated Bruschino Jr., and doubled as a comic gendarme in short pants who tries to unravel the several impersonations. There was local interest as the setting was announced as the nearby Little River Inn. Locals were pleased.

Most of the Festival’s 27 seasons have featured an opera, though last year was dark, and the bantamweight Bruschino’s warm reception from the audience of 500 invites a stage work of more dramatic heft and musical interest in 2014.