SEASON PREVIEW FROM SIN CITY OPERA

 

By: Hal de Becker

 

SCO presented a program at Summerlin Library Performing Art Center consisting of excerpts from some of the works and artists to be offered during the company’s upcoming ninth season.   

 

The troupe has established itself as one willing to take chances with frequently re-worked, updated classics such as Leoncavallo’s Il Pagliacci and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin as well as tackling politically charged works like Menotti’s The Consul and the Weil/Brecht Seven Deadly Sins. 

 

The results have been well-received as attested to by the turnout that filled the Summerlin venue for the recent performance.   

 

Regular company members were joined on stage by several new faces, and voices, of which at least two were especially impressive: Victoria Fox and Eugene Richards III.  

 

Ms. Fox performed arias from Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman, Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz and, en travesti, the suggestive ‘Chacun a son gout’ from Die Fledermaus in which the Prince urges his guests to enjoy themselves, each in their own way. 

 

Possessed of warm timbre and personality, as well as secure professionalism, she quickly established herself as an attractive, talented addition to SCO.

 

Two dramatic arias from Wagner’s Flying Dutchman were performed by Mr. Richards.  In them the Dutchman laments having been cursed to wander the seas forever, a fate to which he would have preferred death. 

 

Richards is a youthful but artistically mature and immensely talented bass-baritone.  His rich sound is uniquely dark and powerful; the intensity of his presence riveting; and      his stamina unwavering (this was, after all, Wagner).   

 

He portrays the title role in SCO’s October 25th and 28th fuller production of the opera.  Try not to miss it.  And remember his name: he is destined for a brilliant operatic career. 

 

As Senta in the ballad from the same opera, Rebecca Morris movingly described the Dutchman’s history and her determination to save him.  She was joined by tenor William McCullough in a duet in which, as her beau Erik, he pleads with her to stay and be his wife. 

 

As alluded to earlier, Wagner’s scores frequently demand that an artist’s voice be pushed to its fullest, and forces it to remain at that level for long periods of time (some of his operas last four hours and longer).  This is one reason why stamina is so important and good Wagnerian singers, especially tenors, so rare. 

 

McCullough, with his ringing voice and staying power, is high on the list of those rare good ones. 

 

In ‘O mio Babbino Caro’, the first of three excerpts from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, a young girl seeks her father’s approval of the boy she loves and wants to marry.  Ginger Land-Van Buuren’s powerful voice lent her interpretation a 21st century assertiveness rather than the usual 13th century supplications of a father-dominated daughter.  

 

The Ah Vittoria! aria of the wily Schicchi was performed by James McGoff.  At times his voice sounded strained and dry but his relaxed and persuasive acting was outstanding.  

 

In addition to singing about undressing Schicchi in the Bedtime Trio, Van Buuren, Fox and Emily Kurcan-Stephenson humorously made piano accompanist, Dean Balan, the object, or perhaps victim, of their attentions.

 

Van Buuren also sang an aria from Bellini’s La Sonnambula in which the sleepwalker recalls the time when her lover mistaken believed she’d been unfaithful to him.

 

As Figaro in the aria Non Piu Andrai from Mozart’s La Nozzi di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) Meric Pittman mockingly advises a randy youth to become a soldier and give up his former fun and flings.

 

Pittman, a talented teenager, discovered by SCO at its Summer Opera Camp, had surprisingly good Italian diction, and usually projected a strong, full voice.  However, it occasionally faded leaving him almost inaudible.  Experience will cure that.  With his vocal gifts and talent, good looks and apparent intelligence he’s a singer with a future.    

 

In another number en travesti Miguel Alasco portrayed the vain, flirtatious Musetta of Puccini’s La Boheme. In the aria Quando men vo Alasco’s parody of Musetta boasting that her beauty always attracts attention was flagrantly outrageous and wildly amusing.   

 

Five excerpts from The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan involved the entire cast including Stephen Rinck as Major General, and brought the performance to a close. 

 

The problem for any production of G and S operettas is enabling the audience to understand all the wit and clever rhyme contained in the super-fast-paced lyrics: some may be understood but much is always missed. This challenge is rarely if ever fully surmounted and wasn’t by SCO - at least not this time.

 

Opera is, of course, more about sound than sight.  However, the Divas were smartly attired in gowns and tailored pants-suits against which a male colleague in shirt sleeves and badly wrinkled trousers looked woefully out of place.          

 

The company’s new season begins September 6th.  More info and tickets are available at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   

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