Music — Manchester Is Awash In Opera

Manchester is awash in opera

 

By Jeff Rapsis jrapsis@hippopress.com]


For opera fans, it’s something to sing about.
 

The next two months will see string of operas performed in the Manchester area. Recordings are nice, but nothing compares to opera done live and fully staged. Check it out yourself. Here’s a quick guide.

 

• Wednesday, Oct. 13: “Porgy and Bess” by George Gershwin. Completed just two years before his untimely death in 1937, Gershwin’s only full-length opera stands as a landmark American stage work. The story is touching and believable (unusual for opera), while the score overflows with instantly recognizable melodies: “Summertime,” “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’,” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”

Set in a South Carolina fishing village in 1912, the opera follows the efforts of Bess, a woman with a past, to break free of her abusive lover and find a better life. Her hopes hinge on the crippled Porgy, who affords her sanctuary despite disapproval of the townspeople. Can Porgy and Bess leave behind a life of crime and drug use, or will her past catch up to them?

Sung in English, but the libretto by playwright DuBose Heyward uses a dialect called Gullah Language, a Creole blend of African languages with English. (Don’t worry, you’ll get it.) The performance will be given by a touring company production stopping in Manchester on its way from Columbus, Ohio, to New Haven, Conn.

Bottom line: A tuneful slice of American musical heritage; likely to appeal even to non-opera-goers.

Curtain time for “Porgy and Bess” is 8 p.m.; tickets are $20 to $40. Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester; for more info, call 669-3559 or visit www.palacetheatre.org.

 

• Saturday, Oct.  30: “Tosca” by Giacomo Puccini. Death, death, and more death—that’s what you expect from a classic opera, and “Tosca” delivers the goods, along with some of the most gorgeous and impassioned stage music ever composed.

The plot? Set in Italy during the Napoleonic era, “Tosca” follows a singer’s efforts to save her lover from torture and death by giving in to the advances of a local police chief. Things don’t quite work out—it’s revealing no secrets that pretty much the entire main cast is dead before the final curtain.

This production, the first of Opera New Hampshire’s 2004-05 season, will be staged by the Dicapo Opera Theater of New York. Sung in Italian with English titles projected above the stage.

Bottom line: Don’t worry about the plot; go for Puccini’s to-die-for melodies.

Curtain time for“Tosca” is 8 p.m.; tickets are $20 to $55. Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester; for more info, call 669-3559 or visit www.palacetheatre.org.

 

• Sunday, Oct.  31: “La Traviata” by Giuseppe Verdi. Another Italian potboiler, only this time set to the intensely dramatic music of Verdi. Follow the ups and downs of a Parisian courtesan; she finds happiness in Act I, then watch as it unravels into a tangled mess of plot devices that involve everything from dueling lovers to tuberculosis, the favorite operatic malady.

 “Traviata” is staged by the Stanislavsky Opera Company, a Russian touring group descended from the famed director’s original studio. Expect lots of method acting; sung in Italian with English titles.

Bottom line: That’s Italian; the kind of opera to watch after a meal at Piccola Italia.

Curtain time for“La Traviata” is 7 p.m.; tickets are $25 to $45. Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 South Main St., Concord; for more info, call 225-1111 or visit www.ccanh.com.

 

•  Friday and Sunday, Nov. 19 & 21: “The Marriage of Figaro” by Wolfgang Mozart. The high-spirited breakthrough opera of 1786 endures as one of the classiest, wittiest and most multi-faceted scores ever penned. The miracle is Mozart’s music, which is light and airy, supports the action perfectly, and sports a dark side to it if you listen carefully; sung in Italian with English titles.

Granite State Opera’s first production of the 2004-05 season will see some favorite pros returning for lead roles, including Theresa Cincione and David Kravitz (both in last season’s “Magic Flute”) as the count and countess, Sandra DeAthos as Susannah, David Cushing as Figaro, and local mezzo soprano Janice Edwards as Marcellina. Artistic director Phil Lauriat will conduct.

Bottom line: Granite State uses the best pro singers Lauriat can book; “Figaro” looks to be no exception.

Curtain time for“The Marriage of Figaro” is Friday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 21 at 2 p.m.; tickets are $18 to $58. Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 South Main St., Concord; for more info, call 225-1111 or visit www.ccanh.com.

 
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