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Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Recital
GLOVER'S ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHT'S CINNABAR RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Daniel Glover is arguably the busiest virtuoso pianist in the San Francisco Bay area, but rarely is heard in North Bay concerts. So 90 local pianophiles were anxious to hear him Feb. 17 in Petaluma’s charming small Cinnabar Theater, and they were rewarded with an eclectic program of sometimes unfam...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
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.