|Amore Opera's cousins
Gregory Buchalter led the orchestra with visible enthusiasm, and kept the ensemble laudably tight and action briskly-paced; the gleeful escalations of strings, tongue-in-cheek fanfares, and woodwind laughter of the score were all very winsome. (As a matter of possible interest to those more gadget-oriented than I, Buchalter led using an score on a tablet. The future!) Fr. John Sheehan and Victor Ziccardi ably filled the roles of the loyal Diego and the obnoxiously obsequious Columella, respectively. As the indispensable housekeeper Matilde, Deborah Surdi had a tendency to drift flat, but excellent diction, and she exuded an air of exasperated competence. The gallant Le Bross was embodied with considerable vocal and dramatic flair by Hayden DeWitt. The philosophical merchant's opening aria was sung with both agility and charisma, sparking audible murmurs of appreciation around me. Le Bross is a man of gallantry and good humor, seeking an intelligent and attractive wife (and, in this production, also seeking a decent cup of coffee.) Both quests are vain: Le Bross' insistence on mutual affection leads him to discovering Isabella's previous attachment, which he then helps her to bring to a happy conclusion. DeWitt used phrasing and tonal color expressively throughout.
Camillo, the timid suitor chosen by Isabella, was well sung and charmingly acted by Erika Beth Hennings, who shaped her phrases nicely whether despairing over the accounts or the prospect of a loveless future. Sheena Ramirez sang the role of the much-courted Isabella with impressive agility and brilliance of tone, as well as considerable Soprano Spunk. I found some of her mannerisms distracting, but this is a quibble. Duncan Hartman and Jacopo Buora had good vocal and dramatic chemistry as the temperamentally opposed brothers Olivo and Pasquale. Hartman, imposingly tall and austere of countenance, sang with dark, focused tone; the role does not allow for much dramatic nuance, but Hartman resisted caricature in his portrait of the would-be autocrat. Jacopo Buora has a warm and supple baritone, and Italian diction which made his frequent patter expressive; he was a winsome presence as the amiable Pasquale. If you can make it to one of the remaining performances, I recommend it; if you can persuade an opera company near you that it really needs a delightfully silly opera with two trouser roles and dramatically significant pastries, so much the better.