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02 Aug 2005
Donizetti's Rita at the Wiener Kammeroper
On the evening of 28 July, I had the privilege to attend the Wiener Kammeroper's performance of Donizetti's Rita. Subtitled "The Battered Husband," this one act farce revolves around Rita, the owner of a cafe, and her husband Beppe (Jose Aparicio).
Rita, performed by Lusine Azaryan, regularly beats her husband to keep him in tow, whether he needs it or not. Her former husband, it appears, treated her likewise. When Gasparo (Dmitry Ovchinnikov), arrives he instantly recognizes Rita as his supposedly dead wife and she in turn recognizes him as her supposedly dead husband. Beppe discovers Gasparo's identity and he promptly cedes his position to Gasparo. Much commotion follows with a surprise ending reminiscent of many a television sitcoms.
Situated in the Fleischmarkt, the company's home theater is an intimate venue that seats, perhaps, 300 along with standing room space on the balcony. The orchestra is completely out of sight, except for a closed circuit television image of the conductor. The performers wander about freely on stage and off to give added dimension to an otherwise cramped stage.
The singers' performed with panache, their voices being equally weighted such that no one dominated the performance. Ms. Azaryan's soprano is rich and even, while Mr. Aparicio is a light tenor with a brilliant top that is perfect for comic opera. Mr. Ovchinnikov's bass is black as night. Although the waiter (Marco Di Sapia) did not sing until late in the work, his comic acting and mime were singularly outstanding; and, when he did finally sing, his baritone was pure and fluid. High praises go to the orchestra under the able leadership of Daniel Hoyem-Cavazza.
All in all, this was a treat. The librettist, Gustavo Vaez, was clearly ahead of his time.