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A CurtainUp Review
By Elyse Sommer
As if the opera itself didn't contain enough melodrama — murder, seduction, not to mention a statue that comes to life— Tanglewood's three-performance run tested the on with the show spirit of the young singers and musicians and Maestros James Levine and Christoph Altstaedt with horrendous thunder storms both at Monday and Wednesday night's performances. As the conductors and musicians were unfazed by the elements, neither was the audience. Still, I fully expected that Mr. Alstadet's night at the podium would suffer from heavy absenteeism, given the reports of a bolt of lightning striking right outside the barn-like theater and another night of floodlike storms threatening to make getting to and leaving Tanglewood once again a soggy challenge. While I briefly debated staying home and listening to a Don Giovanni CD, I decided to ignore warnings about dangerous flash floods. And lo and behold, I was not alone. The house was packed.
Was it worth it? You bet.
Christoph Alstadt was a steady and forceful presence in the pit, and the student orchestra followed his lead splendidly. The young singers, who might be excused for being in less than top form after two strenuous nights, were, if anything, more seasoned and assured in a production that featured much physicality (for example, Giovanni 's sword play with the Commendatore, and his leaps in the less deadly interaction with Leporello).
Speaking of Giovanni, baritone Elliot Madore was up to the singing and acting demands of the role. With his dark hair and modern-day rock-star outfit, it was easy to believe how his seductive charms could blind woman after woman to his despicable character.
Director Ira Siff's decision to have costumer Eduardo Sicangco (who also created the handsome and versatile pale wood set) dress all the characters in keeping with their personas, mixed up the time period visually as much as the opera itself mixes buffa and seria. If this sounds visually confusing, it is a little —- but it does help to create the aura of timelessness sought by Siff. Most importantly, the singers all brought individual vivid personalities and musical prowess to their roles. The only outsider, Bbss Morris Robinson, was an imposing enough Commendatore to make one wish he had more stage time.
And so, while it was not the best of times in terms of enjoying a picnic on the benches outside the theater, but what those lucky enough to see one of these performances will remember is not the slush and tempestuous rains— but the pleasure of seeing this complex opera intriguingly staged and well performed by the future opera stars James Levine is committed to training.
Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
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