So, I’m laughing out loud at the title of this post. It is, in fact, a new Facebook group started by none other than the fabulous David Kravitz, who is playing Lisargo, the Mayor, who is also my character, Ghita’s, brother, and is also sort of the fiance to Lilla, who is the sister of my fiance, Tita, and who is actually in love with Lubino, not Lisargo. Little does Lilla know, however, that she is also the object of Corrado’s affections (not to be confused with Corrado Rovaris, who is conducting this performance), as well as the Prince, otherwise known as the Infante, son of Queen Isabella, lover of hunting and solver of all peasantry problems. Head exploding yet???
So, yes, this is the plot, convoluted as it might be, of my current project, Una Cosa Rara, by Martin y Soler, libretto by, King of 18th Century Convolution himself, Lorenzo da Ponte.
Let’s not mince words here: the piece is flawed. It would not be unfair to say that it is wanting of some dramaturgical and musical sophistication. Nonetheless, it is by no means a BAD piece. Convoluted or not, da Ponte’s plot is wonderfully comical and full of heart and (as is so often the case with his work) strangely relevant. It is a true ensemble piece (more on that in a minute) with two couples at its core, a la Ricky and Lucy and Fred and Ethel, and it pulses with a certain youthful sass, energy, verve. And lest we forget Mr. Soler’s contributions, there are some lovely arias and ensemble scenes, a highlight of which is a first act canon between the three female characters.
It’s not hard to imagine that Cosa Rara could be a total sleeper–the music can feel, uh, a little remedial at time, the jokes a bit tedious, UNLESS of course, you have an all–star team working on it. And I really feel like Opera Theatre of St. Louis has assembled just such a group. If you haven’t heard of Maestro Corrado Rovaris yet, I hope you will look him up and follow him–the man is fabulous. And he really understands this style. The death of a piece like Soler’s is its symmetry: 2 bar phrase, 2 bar phrase, 4 bar phrase, 4 bar phrase, ABA form, couplet rhyme schemes–if you’re vomiting in your mouth a little, I understand…But Maestro Rovaris is really helping us to shape the piece in a way that is interesting, and dare I say, quite beautiful at times?! Plus, he is a gem of a colleague–absolutely wonderful to work with. On to director Chas Rader-Schieber. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I had first seen Chas’s work this past fall via Curtis Opera Theatre’s production of Nozze. I was blown away by that production. It was so creative, so beautiful to look at, but also FUNNY (I guffawed my way through much of the opera) and balanced with heart. I can already feel the benefits of Chas infusing his genius into our project. I think he has found real depth to these characters, while at the same time understanding that the piece is meant to be light, airy, a comic confection, of sorts? Finally, the cast: Keith Phares, Maureen McKay, Alek Shrader, Mary Wilson, Paul Appleby, Matt Burns, David Kravitz, and yours truly, LL…not only are all of my colleagues extraordinary talents (and I swear, I do not write in hyperbole at this moment…uh, was that just hyperbole???), but they’re a blast to work with. I was speaking with a friend of mine in New York today, and I said to him, “It just feels too easy…I love my castmates, love the conductor, love the director, rehearsing is a pleasure, I love Opera Theatre (that’s what Opera Theatre of St. Louis calls themselves)…something has to go wrong, right?” Call me superstitious, but it does seem a bit too good to be true. But I’m not complaining…
To change the subject abruptly, I will tell you that I decided yesterday that I am going to take the plunge and do the Belvedere auditions. I bought my plane ticket, got an Alcina score (I’m learning Ama, sospira-Morgana’s other aria besides Tornami a vagheggiar) and well, I’m cramming it. I know in a previous post that I discussed how this has gotten me into trouble before, but my logic is that this is just to get me through the first round of auditions, and if I can do that, I will have a whole month and a half to get the Alcina sufficiently settled in my voice. Also, even though this is irrelevant at this point, I think the chances of them asking to hear the Handel in my audition next week are slim, at best. But again, can NEVER count on that!
I’ll leave you with the an excerpt of one of Ghita and Tita’s “love duets”. (Our production: much funnier, much more interesting to look at.)