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Sparkling and captivating

Teatro Rossini
08/13/2014 -  & August 16, 2014
Gioachino Rossini: Il viaggio a Reims
Hasmik Torosyan*/Shahar Lavě (Corinna), Aya Wakizono (Marchesa Melibea), Isabel Rodríguez García (Contessa di Folleville), Giulia De Blasis (Madama Cortese), Matteo Macchioni*/Nico Darmanin (Cavalier Belfiore), Anton Rositskiy (Conte di Libenskof), Marko Mimica (Lord Sidney), Anton Markov (Barone di Trombonok), Yungpeng Wang (Don Profondo), Iurii Samoilov (Don Alvaro), Claudio Levantino (Don Prudenzio), Christian Collia (Don Luigino), Madison Marie McIntosh*/Magadalena Gallo (Delia), Shahar Lavě*/Hasmik Torosyan (Maddalena), Yuka Maruo (Modestina), Nico Darmanin (Zefirino, Gelsomino), Riccardo Fioranti (Antonio).
Orchestra Filarmonica Gioacchino Rossini, Iván López-Reynoso (Conductor)
Iván López-Reynoso (Direction), Emilio Sagi (Settings), Pepa Ojanguren (Costumes)

(Courtesy of R.O.F.)

This sparse and gorgeous setting of Il viaggio a Reims (originally presented in 2001) has served the festival well as a vehicle and training ground for its program of academic and practical studies within the art form particular to Rossini’s operas. On a wide open set of white beachside decking, against a blazing blue sky, the preposterously glamorous and debauched behaviours of the inmates at this erstwhile health spa vary from lecherous groping to surreptitious drinking, all with tongue firmly in cheek as the characters dance, sing and overact their way into a total send up of Balocchi’s story.

This show is a laugh a minute and the quality of the music-making brings great credit to the Rossini Opera Festival’s Festival Giovane (Youth festival) as well as bringing to light a number of potential stars of the future. As with every production generating from a study program, there will be individuals who have only recently commenced their studies and have limited stage experience. This is so with this production and it is easy to envisage several of the cast returning to build upon their practical experiences and further develop their skills. On the other hand, there will always be those who are within a hair’s breadth of commencing their stage careers and we heard a good number in this show who are well ready to move into bigger and more demanding roles.

The orchestra, under the helm of Iván López-Reynoso who set a cracking pace led all performers through a wild ride which entirely captivated the capacity audience. Judging by the intensity of the applause, this conductor will become a crowd favourite if he is able to maintain this level of energy and humour. There was not a minute to pause nor a second wasted in this performance. It moved elegantly through the score but at the same time gave the impression of a “knock about” reading which was completely charming.

Predictably, the stand out singers had the major roles and several stood out indeed. As the Marchesa Malibea, Aya Wakizono gave a confident and commanding performance. She took possession of the stage with her acting and had no difficulty with the demanding and musically complex role. Her voice has great variety of shading and she uses its agility and versatility to impressive effect.

As Madama Cortese, Giulia De Blasis was another stand out performer. She has a hugely powerful and accurate voice which becomes more appealing as it increases in volume. Her stage presence is witty and entertaining and she made the most of her opportunity to show her skills to good advantage.

As Don Profondo, Yunpeng Wang stole the show momentarily. His voice is rich and lustrous; he exudes power and energy and has at the same time, a youthful reticence. He commenced his mimicry of different nationalities in "Io! Medaglie incomparabili" tentatively but found that he had the audience with him all the way. He quickly captured the pace and vibrancy of the orchestra to make it work to his advantage and had the entire audience in fits of laughter, offering applause which held the performance up for several minutes. His acclamation during the curtain calls left no doubt that this man has the potential to be a huge audience favourite.

Another of the men whose voice impressed was Marko Mimica as Lord Sidney. His is a huge voice of massive power and accuracy. His deepest notes are beautifully rounded and his upper register stretches easily into the upper baritone. His solos were very well received despite his stage persona being somewhat wooden.

Isabel Rodríguez García’s rendition of the Contessa di Folleville also deserves mention. Her voice is flexible and nimble and she used it well to capture the histrionics and hilarity of the Contessa. She too has a notable stage presence and took every opportunity to ham up her role to the great enjoyment of the audience.

Matteo Macchioni as the Cavalier gave a fine comic turn in each of his numbers. From the swaggering peacock to the forlorn lover, his acting ability augments a well rounded voice which served well in this role as the younger of the men. He gave a brave performance, not holding back, reaching for hugely impressive upper notes which marked him out as another of the audience’s particular heroes.

As with all performances of this type, much good can be said about the potential of the new singers and actors who are in training. Overall, this performance was a very creditable one with a good ensemble cast who all worked well together. It is heartening indeed to see the performers of tomorrow receiving an opportunity to show off their achievements during this festival and to learn under the expert guidance offered by the Accademia Rossiniana.

Gregory Pritchard



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