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Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
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...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising the ...
Recital
STYLUS AND PLAYING FANTASTICUS IN YOUNG'S ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Organist Robert Young gave a wonderful tour through the stylus fantasticus (fantastic style) organ literature June 25 playing a recital on the Casavant organ at Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Young recently became the organist at the Church and previously served for 20 years as Music D...
Chamber
KODALY DUO TRUMPS POPULAR MENDELSSOHN TRIO AT SLV CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
It’s not really a secret, but Sonoma County’s best chamber music series is one without much notoriety or publicity. The concerts at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village programs are only for residents and a few invited guests. Impresario Robert Hayden years ago honed his producer skills as founder of ...
Recital
DEMANDING VIOLIN SONATAS CONQUERED BY BEILMAN-WEISS DUO IN SCHROEDER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Violinist Benjamin Beilman’s ravishing Mozart performance at last summer’s Weill Hall ChamberFest finale lured an enthusiastic crowd to Schroeder Hall May 14 to hear if his secure virtuosity was up to a program of demanding sonatas. He did not disappoint. With the powerful pianist Orion Weiss in t...
Symphony
SOVIETS INVADE WEILL HALL, TAKE NO PRISONERS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 07, 2017
Bruno Ferrandis may be French, but he excels in Soviet repertoire. His Slavonic expertise was more than amply demonstrated at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s May 7 concert, where the program began joyfully with Khachaturian’s ballet suite from “Masquerade,” surged forward with Prokofiev’s second violin co...
Recital
MASTERFUL PIANISM IN GOODE'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, May 05, 2017
Pianist Richard Goode programmed an evening of treasures May 5 from four great composers, and is an artist of intimacy and intelligence, power and passion, able to go deep and to soar. Hearing Mr. Goode play this literature was a reminder of how music does indeed bridge worlds and time. Bach’s E m...
Recital
ELEGANT ORGAN SALUTE TO THE REFORMATION
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Organist Jonathan Dimmock presented an April 30 recital in homage to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, playing Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh instrument. Mr. Dimmock is the organist for the San Francisco Symphony, principal organist for the Palace of the Legion of Honor and teaches at...
OPERA REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Friday, July 17, 2015
Allan Pollack, conductor. Chester Pidduck (Almaviva); Eugene Brancoveanu (Figaro); Nikki Einfield (Rosina); Igor Vieira (Bartolo); Dennis Rupp (Basilio); Adina Dorband (Berta)

I. Vieira E. Brancoveanu C. Pidduck N. Enflield D. Rupp A. Dorband J, Russell (N. Wilson Photo)

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 performed in the huge festival tent, and cast his eyes upward, humorously, to the top of the tent.

Beside mentioning Commedia (the comedy of craft) where lying is to tell the truth, and masked characters unmask the self, Mr. Brancoveanu pointed to the revolution Rossini effected in opera with his new treatment of vocal ornamentation in Bel Canto. “When someone hears a Rossini opera today, they’ll say it’s standard repertoire. But in his time, he was avant-garde and very controversial.”

And in a most refreshing way the Festival production brought Opera Buffa back to popular musical theater, to the delight of a nearly full house. The cast of seven played and sang with an often half-careless brilliance that almost seemed planned, and was wholly in the spirit of the Opera and Mr. Brancoveanu’s staging.

In Figaro’s famous first aria the baritone’s vocal and stage presence showed clear enjoyment of the mischievousness of the impish rogue, barber and procurer. The singing was so clever that it proved a showstopper with the audience cheering above its own applause.

Soprano Nikki Einfeld acted physically like a bored and love-crazed girl, but sang Rosina’s Una voce pocco fa with a knowing and mature voice, exciting in high melisma that continued through both acts. As Count Almaviva, tenor Chester Pidduck excelled both in the ornamental word play and the sweetness of the love songs. He acted with deft humor when disguised as a drunken soldier seeking to get free housing, and as a conspiratorial music student trying to be near Rosina.

Bass singers Igor Vieira and Dennis Rupp were convincing as Doctor Bartolo, Rosina’s overly doting guardian, and as Basilio (Mr. Rupp), the clownish clerical music teacher in cahoots with Bartolo. Mr. Vieira sang and acted brilliantly as the sourpuss that knows everyone is out to get him but quickly switched to falsetto to cruelly mimic his tormentors.

Even the minor roles were well performed. Soprano Adina Dorband as the superannuated old maid governess, stirringly sang Il vecchio cerca moglie. As the officer, James Russell doesn’t speak or sing, but had the audience in laughter trying to arrest the ersatz music student. The latter proves he is a nobleman with a gesture, and Mr. Russell joined the scene with the full cast going frozen in a tableau vivant, and where Mr. Russell’s features slowly oscillate between rubber-faced mugging and wry expressions of fear, disorientation and loathing.

The big final trio of Almaviva, Figaro and Rosina was performed elegantly.

The Opera’s four scenes ran the gamut of comic and serious emotions, and the Festival Orchestra (conducted by Allan Pollack) buoyed up the singing and occasionally soared above the vocal lines.