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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
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.