Manhattan School of Music La Doriclea in OperaNews


"Manhattan School of Music’s Senior Opera Theater showcased this year’s graduating class with the Baroque rarity La Doriclea by Francesco Cavalli (seen March 26). This musically challenging work had the distinct advantage of offering a wealth of roles, large and small, that could be matched to the varying abilities of the young singers. The plot is a mystifying narrative tangle involving a conflict between Armenia and Arsacia and featuring warriors of fluid gender and allegiance. Women’s roles predominate — a boon for a female-heavy opera studio — and don’t inhabit strict vocal categories as much as a sliding scale of color and weight, from the maid Melloe (the burnished contralto Lisa Angela Barone) to the page Orindo (the adorable, flute-y Alessandra Altieri). Doriclea, the Armenian queen, spends most of the opera in trousers and captivity, exercising a Viola-like fascination over Eurinda, the Arsacian king’s sister. Doriclea’s rangy, not-quite soprano music hovers just above that of her mezzo-soprano husband, the vanquished Tigrane. In these two central roles, Bryn Holdsworth and Gina Perregrino provided a warm heart for the sometimes silly and none too credible plot. Holdsworth was alternately defiant and compassionate, especially affecting in her beautifully judged third act lament. Perregrino layered Tigrane with a combination of mellow goodness and swaggering strength, and together they created a relationship of real tenderness and urgency." ...

"No Baroque opera would be complete without a complement of meddling deities. Soprano Katelyn Wilson was a vixenish Venus, calling forth her army of anime Cupids in neon pink wigs. Cameron Johnson gave Mars a repentant veneer, and Mark Zhaoming Seah contributed a playful Mercury. Molly Boggess (Ambition), Marina Lombardi (Ignorance), Haley King (Virtue) and Sheila Houlahan (Glory) set the tone nicely in the prologue, personifying the forthcoming conflict in Doriclea’s journey. All the singers endowed the plentiful recitatives with significance and used the judiciously applied ornaments expressively. As always, Dona D. Vaughn provided simple, character-driven, and well-paced direction. Conductor Jorge Parodi stayed loose and flexible, attentive to both singers and orchestra. Summer Lee Jack designed attractive flowing desert robes for the mortals and shimmering spandex for the gods, while Kate Ashton’s tastefully appointed set created atmosphere and, in the case of a bunny hiding from the battle, sly commentary."

JOANNE SYDNEY LESSNER. To read the full review go to                                                   

Manhattan School of Music La Doriclea Review

"A rewarding and highly entertaining production of Cavalli's La Doriclea  was presented by the Manhattan School of Music Senior Opera Theater.  Baroque opera can be tedious but, in the right hands, it can be a lot of fun.  The hands belong to Dona D. Vaughn and Jorge Parodi.  Ms. Vaughn directed with a sureness born of experience--experience in telling a story and experience in pulling meaningful performances out of the singers, most of whom were seniors with a few graduate students thrown in for good measure.

Costumes by Summer Lee Jack were apt and well executed.  Gods and goddesses looked very Roman with lots of draping.  Mars looked exactly the way one would imagine and Mercury had a winged helmet. The Arsacians looked vaguely Middle-Eastern with Eurinda and her brother Artabano appearing very royal. - © meche kroop  Sunday, March 30, 2014                                             

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