Museum of Art & History Amphitheater
09/10/2021 - & September 11, 12, 2021
Gioachino Rossini : La scala di seta
Robin Steitz (Giulia), David Walton (Dorvil), Sean Stanton (Germano), Lloyd Reshard Jr. (Blansac), Laura Soto-Bayomi (Lucilla), Kevin Harvey (Dormont)
Opera Southwest Orchestra, Anthony Barrese (Conductor/fortepiano continuo)
Martha Collins (Director), Carmella Lauer (Costumes), Shawn Nielson (Lighting), Kendra Green (Stage Manager)
S. Stanton & R. Steitz (© Jimmy Riviera)
Located in the gardens of Albuquerque’s Museum of Art and History, the outdoor amphitheater is hosting Opera Southwest’s first event of the season: Rossini’s La scala di seta. On a balmy evening like yesterday, with not a leaf moving – somehow exceptional in windy Albuquerque – the musical experience was really enjoyable. The silken ladder was artistically sewn, and the tournedos cooked to near perfection.
While the Scala di seta’s scampering overture remains one of Rossini’s many brilliant pages, the opera itself is rarely performed. It was exhumed by the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy, in 1988. Written in 1812 when the composer was twenty, this one-act farsa comica takes place in Paris and tells the story of a young lady (Giulia) married to Dorvil, unbeknownst to her guardian (Dormont) who wants her to marry Blansac, whom, as one would expect, Giulia has always adamantly rejected. If the storyline is thin, the libretto is packed with constant developments and a string of comic twists and mix-ups, taking the spectator to a happy ending that culminates in a dazzling finale. And this is precisely what transpires from this production by Opera Southwest. Director Martha Collins takes us on a zesty and jubilant ninety-minute ride with numbers flowing into one another seamlessly, and no time to breathe. The set and costumes are minimalist, consisting of a few timeless props and First French Empire dresses and tailcoats.
Despite the dry acoustic of this outdoor venue, the entire cast rises to the occasion with energetic talent and singing ability. Kevin Harvey is an adequate tutor, as well as Laura Soto-Bayomi singing Lucilla, and so is Lloyd Reshard Jr. in Blansac. David Walton has the required bravura to sing Dorvil. With a ringing high register, well suited for Rossini’s demanding tenor arias, he delivers a commendable “Vedrò qual sommo incanto.” Bass Sean Stanton is irresistible in Germano and garners loud applause for his “Amor dolcemente...”. Robin Steitz is a delectable Giulia. Her soprano is clear, and she possesses the agility in coloratura passages. However, the high register is pushed to the limit, and notes tend to lose their color. Her challenging aria “Il mio ben sospiro e chiamo...” is sung with conviction and aplomb.
Under the command of Anthony Barrese, musical director of the company, the Opera Southwest Orchestra navigates with gusto through the intricacies of the score. Tempos are appropriately bright, and humorous touches here and there are relevant. Strings are luscious and the conversation between oboe (Amanda Talley), flute, piccolo (Jesse Tatum), and bassoon (Denise Turner) is sharp and crisp.
La scala di seta will be followed by Opera Southwest’s La traviata in October at the Hispanic Cultural Center Auditorium. ConcertoNet will be there.
Opera Southwest Albuquerque