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Francesco Cilèa
06 Mar 2007

OONY Performs Cilèa’s L’Arlesiana

It is well known that the Opera Orchestra of New York’s performances are required events for opera aficionados to hear the the most exciting performances of the season.

Francesco Cilèa: L’Arlesiana
Opera Orchestra of New York, Carnegie Hall, 21 February 2007


OONY Music Director Eve Queler’s personal magnetism (and no doubt hard work) attracts a rich array of talented operatic voices, both of the internationally known and more fledging variety, in order to perform rarely performed gems that have fallen out of—or have never made into—the opera repertory.

Most recently, OONY presented Francesco Cilèa’s L’Arlesiana, a lyric drama in three acts, on Wednesday, February 21, 2007 in Carnegie Hall. Cilèa’s opera, which was premiered in 1897 by Teatro Lirico in Milan, is based on the same Daudet play for which Bizet wrote incidental music that is still popular. The libretto for L’Arlesiana was created for Cilèa by Leopoldo Marenco.

The opera portrays the story of Federico, a handsome young man who is smitten with a woman from the nearby town of Arles. The first act reveals that the woman’s character is suspect, and that her love for Federico is quite likely feigned as she has compromised her purity with the stableman Metifio. Ultimately, despite the interventions of his mother, the local girl Vivetta, and the advice of the wise shepherd Baldasarre, Federico is plunged into a jealous frenzy over the Arlesian and takes his own at the end of the tale.

Most of the cast performed well, though perhaps not with all the musicality and flair that is expected from OONY. Making her debut with OONY in L’Arlesiana , Marianne Cornetti performed convincingly in the role of Rosa Mamai, Federico’s doting mother. Ihn-Kyu Lee made brief appearances as Federico’s rival—an ill-mannered stableman also obsessed with the woman from Arles, who never makes an appearance nor is named beyond “L’Arlesiana.” Weston Hurt performed the role of Baldasarre with charm and wooed the audience with his warm voice, which befit the role of the wise, older shepherd. Collette Boudreaux played the L’innocenza—Federico’s simpleton younger brother.

This third performance of the season was the last opera-in-concert of the 2007 – 2008 series; however, those who attended will be glad to know that Latonia Moore, who made her OONY debut as Vivetta in L’Arlesiana, will also be showcased in a recital on May 3, 2007 with OONY as the 2007 Vidda Award recipient. The Moore graduated from the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, was acclaimed as Micaëla in the New York City Opera production of Carmen earlier this season. Moore’s performance in L’Arlesiana indicates that big things will happen for this young soprano who has many debut performances in the U.S. and in Europe coming up in the next season.

The most generous portion of the applause for the evening went to the young tenor, Giuseppe Filianoti as the lovelorn Federico. Filianoti made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2005 as Edgar in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, but L’Arlesiana was his only appearance in the U.S. this season. The tenor aria “Lamento di Federico” is featured in many tenors’ repertoires, although the rest of the opera is rarely performed. Filianoti’s interpretation of this aria that helped sparked Caruso’s career more than a century ago caused the house to erupt into applause so enthusiastic that Filianoti repeated the aria. A gentleman near me remarked somewhat incredulously, “It was even better the second time!”—a sentiment with which I fully agree.

Megan Jenkins

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