Saturday night, I had the pleasure of attending an opera. It was a double-bill, two one-acts by Puccini. The pieces are part of a series of three called Il trittico, often presented together. It was put on by the Miami Lyric Opera at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach.
The selections were a tragedy followed by a comedy, Il tabarro and Gianni Schicchi. I almost wish they would have presented the tragedy second because of its fiercely climactic ending.
It was particularly funny going to the opera now that I am interning with Florida Grand Opera. I felt like I was cheating on my opera company (love you, FGO), but it was nice to see an opera in the off-season, especially because I am surrounded by it daily. One of the artists playing at FGO this season, Nelson Martinez, was one of the stars in Il tabarro. It was a bit surreal for me to see him perform after researching and writing interview questions for him on behalf of FGO. My queries will carry more weight now that I have witnessed this tremendous talent firsthand.
As for the operas: I am often partial to one-acts because they’re short and . I love opera, but even as an actor and Theatre major, my attention tends to stray during a three-hour show.
As far as holistic cast performance, I preferred Il tabarro. The three leads–Nelson Martinez (Michele), Maryann Mootos (Giorgetta), and Philip Alongi (Luigi)–were outstanding, particularly the men. The rapport between the three at any given time was extraordinary. Alongi’s powerful voice heightened and complemented the emotion he was portraying, particularly in one scene when he clutches a knife and speaks desperately to it–“I would kill without fear, and with drops of red blood make you a rare jewel.”
The final scenes embodied what is in my mind a textbook rising action leading to a perfectly timed climax with no denouement. Michele, Giorgetta’s husband, learns of her affair with one of his workmen, Luigi, and conceals him under a cloak. When Giorgetta emerges on the scene, Michele entreats her to come closer, at which point he reveals Luigi’s hidden form and cuts his throat. Giorgetta’s reaction and Michele’s triumph erupt together in a poignant last moment and the curtain falls.
A quick intermission and a drink later, we were back for Gianna Schicchi, the comedy. I didn’t think much of the plot nor the singers until the title character, Richard Cassell, came on. It was immediately clear this man had played over 100 roles. His command of the stage was electric, and he asserted himself with vivacity.
The actress who sang “O mio babbino,” one of Puccini’s most famous songs, took me by surprise (Rebekah Diaz, the role of Lauretta). Her presence on stage was average at best–and then she opened her mouth. What a beautiful rendition.
Also, the conductor was a women, Maestra Doris Lang Kosloff, which was AWESOME. I hadn’t seen anything since Paris, so it was a welcome experience that made me realize how much I truly missed live theatre.