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Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
Symphony
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 04, 2018
When the ATOS Piano Trio planned their all-Russian touring program at their Berlin home base, it had a strong elegiac, even tragic theme that surely resonated with their Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience Nov. 4 in Mill Valley. Comprised of Annette von Hehn, violin; Thomas Hoppe, piano; and...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN OCCIDENTAL CHAMBER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 03, 2018
When the Berlin-based ATOS Piano Trio entered the cramped Occidental Performing Arts stage Nov. 3, the audience of 100 anticipated familiar works in the announced all-Russian program. What they got was a selection of rarely-plays trios, with a gamut of emotions. Then one-movement Rachmaninoff G Mi...
Symphony
MIGHTY SHOSTAKOVICH 10TH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Just two works were on the opening program of the Marin Symphony’s 67th season Oct. 28, Tchaikovsky’s iconic D Major Violin Concerto, and Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony. Before a full house in the Marin Center Auditorium conductor Alasdair Neale set a judicious opening tempo in the brief orchestra i...
Symphony
VIVALDI FOR ALL SEASONS IN WEILL BAROQUE CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, October 27, 2018
The Venice Baroque Orchestra, a dozen superb musicians that include strings, harpsichord and recorder, played an uplifting concert Oct. 27 of mostly Vivaldi sinfonias and concertos. The Weill Hall audience of 600 had rapt attention throughout, and the playing was of the highest musical level. This r...
Recital
LIN'S PIANISM AND PERSONA CHARM SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 21, 2018
In somewhat of a surprise a sold out Schroeder Hall audience greeted pianist Steven Lin Oct. 21 in his local debut recital. Why a surprise? Because Mr. Lin was pretty much unknown in Northern California, and Schroeder is rarely, very rarely sold out for a single instrumentalist. But no matter, and...
Chamber
HEROIC TRUMPET AND ORGAN MUSIC AT INCARNATION
by Jerry Dibble
Friday, October 12, 2018
The strong connections between Santa Rosa’s musical community and California State University Chico were on display Oct. 12 as David Rothe, Professor Emeritus in the Chico Music Department, and Ayako Nakamura, trumpet with the North State Symphony, presented a concert titled “Heroic Music for Trumpe...
OPERA REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Friday, July 13, 2018
Festival Orchestra, Luçik Aprahämian, conductor. Singers include Shawnette Sulker, Tonia D'Amelia, Sylvie Jensen, Michael Desnoyers, Bojan Knezevic and Ben Brady. Erin Neff, stage director

Cast In The July 13 Cimarosa Opera Production (Nicholas Wilson Photo)

SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL

by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018

The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our modern ears hold the status of creative giants.

The downside of giants is that they cast shadows, certainly over the centuries. Such is the case for Domenico Cimarosa. Despite having written over 80 operas in his lifetime, and enjoying more success than his contemporary Mozart saw in his lifetime, his works are oft-neglected and undervalued in today’s halls, both large and small.

What a shame, because the 1792 opera Il Matrimonio Segreto is a delightful romp of an operatic romantic comedy that aptly depicts the anxieties and difficulties of two young and unhappy lovers who live surrounded by gossip and selfishness. And the Mendocino Music Festival Orchestra and an adept cast of Festival singers brought Italian composer’s charming score to effervescent life July 13.

The opera was scheduled as part of the 32nd season of the Festival. A crisp, coastal evening proved no challenge for the large white tent, which filled slowly but steadily with opera fans, old and young, despite the performance taking place during a month surely filled with travel and vacations. Ushers seemed decked out for the festive occasion, a few donning top hats. Unticketed music lovers wandered by, listening to the music from afar and enjoying a late sunset over the bluffs.

The set and lighting were impressive, given the limitations of creating a makeshift stage under the massive tent. With orchestra and guest conductor Luçik Aprahämian hidden behind a curtain (surely helping to provide the semblance of a house set but doing nothing for the enjoyment of watching the conductor-orchestra relationship) the overture got the opera buffa in two acts off to a swift start. Her tempi throughout were lively and fitting of the style, which translated into an amusing moment onstage, with the young lovers central to the opera’s plot engaging in private moments in the shadows of the stage curtain.

If the orchestra took a few minutes to find their cohesive sound, the singers did also. Tenor Michael Desnoyers displayed terrific range as Apolino, both vocally and dramatically, but one had a sense with the first duet that he had not quite yet presented his full talents. Shawnette Sulker was sprightly of voice and character as Carolina, with a lovely sound that opened up especially when singing above the staff. Despite the opening duet slowly finding its way in the drama, the music and nerves soon came together, with other cast members joining the stage, giving a sense of ease and playfulness to director Erin Neff’s staging.

Tonia D’Amelia was charmingly clever in vocalism, with a good sense of comedic timing as the overlooked sister Elisetta. Sylvie Jensen’s “Real Housewives” style aunt Fidalma was campy in all the right ways, with a beautiful and rich mezzo quality which perhaps was lost a bit with the tent’s acoustic challenges. The tent also caused much of the Italian language to be absorbed before hitting the audience. Only the two bass singers seemed to display enough “oomph” in their diction to project past the first few rows. Young bass Ben Brady sang with a deep legato that matched the role of the sly and dodgy Count. Bass Bojan Knezevic was a standout in the cast, with the perfect amount of vocal character, over the top facial expressions, and grumpiness of spirit to play into the fatherly stereotype.

The end of the opera was met with robust applause and standing ovations. Indeed, a fun and delightful evening of opera under the white tent.