Review of "I Pagliacci"
I Pagliacci, by Ruggiero Leoncavallo
at the St. Ann's Church
Charles Street and Branch Avenue
Providence, RI

Real talent resides in having the courage to do a piece of music according to the exact specifications of the composer (as much and as well as our human limitations permit), and yet make our offering sound as if it were brand new and fresh.

My respects to the opera company of Providence (Rhode Island) for assuming such a stand, which in today's operatic world is not only revolutionary, but courageous.

As I entered the Church of St. Anne's in Providence (RI), I wondered what would be the nature of the Pagliacci I was going to see presented by Opera Providence. And I say this because nowadays you do not see (or hear) anymore Leoncavallo's... or Verdi's... or Puccini's..., etc. One sees, instead, an opera title owned by different people depending whose production you witness, or who might be the stage director...

It is their name, and not the composer's, that appears all over it... unfortunately. And it is their ideas that de-naturalize these wonderful works, which are part of the Legacy of the Western World to Humanity.

But I was disappointed, overwhelmed, and happy to see Leoncavallo's tonight as every note that was SUNG had the meaning meant to have, and in context.

Maestro René de la Garza, Artistic Director of Opera Providence had the good sense (and good taste) to let Leoncavallo tell the story, and served the Music and Poetry through the wonderful group of young singers which he put together for tonight's performance.

The singing throughout the performance was solid and expressive, experiencing an extraordinary crescendo toward the end of the opera, which made people jump to their feet with exclamations of "bravo" which were heartfelt and well deserved by all of the performers.

(THE CAST: Brian Landry - Canio, Kate Norigian - Nedda, Daniel Klein - Tonio, Stefanos Koroneos - Silvio, and Giovanni Formisano - Beppe) All of the singers sang expressively, with good line and excellent musical sense. The "acting" happened naturally as they were able to sing the lines in the way they were meant to be sung, no strange "motivation" here. They were ably conducted by Maestro Mark Conley. At the piano Mr. Steven Martorello.

The production was by Dr. Robert A. DeRobbio, beautiful to look at in its simplicity and realism: just a village in Calabria, at the end of the 19th Century, which is what Leoncavallo wrote about.

I would like to mention here the very effective participation of the chorus, they sang with aplomb, as real professionals do. The dance was very charming. As I understood by Mrs. DeRobbio's words during intermission, the three young dancers choreographed it themselves. They are students of the local college.

In other words, Opera Providence produces opera locally, well produced (without the  overblown budgets of the bigger opera houses, which cannot manage these days to put one complete cast that is good in an entire season, as it used to be the custom in years gone by). Opera Providence puts together these very beautiful performances with local talent (New York, Boston. Providence itself, what is 100 miles or so between friends?), and at the end of the night you feel that you were given something back and your night out made sense. You do not have to travel back home 45 miles feeling violated, but edified.

Gives you a lot to think about.

My friends, I exhort you to give your support to this worthwhile group, visit their website, find out about their performances and go see and HEAR them. Because one goes to the opera to HEAR THE MUSIC as it is SUNG.

A singer needs an audience. And society NEEDS their artists, or else it dies.

Francisco Casanova
Little Compton
August 4, 2012

 

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