Teatro Grattacielo 2019 Review: 25th Anniversary Concert
A Wonderful Trilogy of Operas Get Fantastic InterpretationsBy Jennifer Pyron
Established in 1994, Teatro Grattacielo’s mission has always centered spotlighting often-overlooked Italian operas between the years of the 1890’s and the 1930’s, with the hope of reintroducing them to the public’s consciousness. On Sept. 28, 2019, the company kicked off its 25th season with an anniversary celebration, presenting Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “La Boheme,” Alfredo Catalani’s “Loreley,” and Ottorino Respighi’s “The Sleeping Beauty.”
The chosen works for this trilogy gave opera goers a chance to simply enjoy rarely heard, traditional arias sung by an array of talented emerging and professional singers. The ensemble exuded passionate singing and an atmosphere of appreciation with lesser-known repertoire throughout the night which was a refreshing experience.
First up on the concert “La Bohème” by Leoncavallo, a work that premiered just a year after Puccini’s more famous version of the work. Legend has it that Puccini, ever the competitor, was motivated to compose the work once he caught wind of Leoncavallo’s own interest in the subject matter. While Puccini’s work is arguably the most popular to ever be conceived and performed, Leoncavallo’s realizes the story through music that with a more upbeat and light-hearted energy.
Conductor Israel Gursky gave an electric performance that showcased the talented orchestra and chorus members.
The singers enthusiastically followed their scores and sang with playfulness and joy. Alessio Borraggine sang the role of Marcello with delight and tenacity. His voice carried across the theater with purpose and connection to his character. During the love duet he shared with Susanne Burgess as Mimi, both singers reveled in the special moment. Burgess blossomed into her warm timbre, while she sang and radiated a genuine affection that uplifted the audience.
Stefanos Koroneos sang the role of Schaunard with adeptness and enthusiasm. He visually personified a leadership quality within the ensemble cast that also played to his character’s benefit by creating a Schaunard that was secure in his role as a master charmer. The exciting qualities of Koroneos voice were heard best in this role.
Mezzo-soprano Emily Hughes sang the role of Musette with a unique combination of precision and wonder. She highlighted best the energy that Leoncavallo intended for his version of “La Bohème” and was a delight to see perform.
Catalani & Respighi
Next up was Catalani’s “Loreley.” While the composer will always be remembered best for “La Wally,” “Loreley” is actually his second most recognized opera is a reworking of his earlier opera “Elda.”
The arias performed here featured tenor Jeremy Brauner as Walter, soprano Ashley Bell as Anna di Rehberg and soprano Kirsten Chambers as Loreley. All three were beautifully showcased, but Chambers might be considered the highlight of the night by audience response and overall performance. Her voice was radiant and her engaging charisma enthralled audience members.
Respighi’s “The Sleeping Beauty” or “La bella dormente nel bosco” was the final opera of the trilogy. Respighi labored over this work over the course of his life with two versions premiered in 1922 and 1934 respectively and a latter version to appear posthumously.
Tenor Thomas Massey sang the role of the Prince with gusto and grace. His voice sounded effortless as it carried into the theater and realized its full potential best when evenly and fully singing each phrase. Massey’s gentle charisma was the perfect fit in the ensemble’s dynamic.
Soprano Joanna Mongiardo as La Fatta Azzurra gave a stunning performance. She glowed while singing and left a strong impression that set her apart from the rest of the ensemble. Mongiardo’s confidence and joy was a special highlight of this closing portion.