Verismo operas were the reality television of their time. Dispensing with the typical operatic kings and gods, they featured recognizably ordinary characters experiencing way-larger-than-life emotions. Capped by generous helpings of sex and violence, these operas made it hard to look away. After reaching its peak in the early 1900s, verismo lingered into the ’20s, when its subject matter began to seem predictable, its music too unabashedly Romantic. Once-vivid performance practice became melodramatic and stale, and only a few titles, like “Cavalleria Rusticana,” “Pagliacci” and “Tosca,” ended up in the standard repertory. But after years of disfavor, these operas are newly hip. Last month the star tenor Jonas Kaufmann released an album of verismo arias. The Metropolitan Opera is said to be planning its first revival of Riccardo Zandonai’s “Francesca da Rimini” (1914) in more than 25 years. The incoming music director of the Opera Orchestra of New York, Alberto Veronesi, is a specialist in the period.
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From Opera Today
Teatro Grattacielo gives concert performances of Verismo operas that range from the obscure to the unheard-of.
by John Yohalem
...Joanna Mongiardo, who has a voice of impressive size and warmth, as well as a technique with ornament that should give her Lucia, Philine and Zerbinetta to choose from, also has a putty face, capable of expressing several emotions at once and of making fun of herself while expressing them. Rosalina is a star role in the glorious line and Mongiardo brought the hall to its feet. If she is a good girl and doesn’t sing Norma or the Ernani Elvira too soon, I foresee a great future for her—and for Il Re, if she cares to remember it. (It’s a star vehicle if you’ve got the star.) She was ably, hilariously supported not only by her peerless monarch, Mr. Maynard, but also by Lawrence Long and Eugenie Greenwald as her distraught parents.
David Wroe and the Westfield Symphony Orchestra, having made a shimmering hour of I Compagnacci, really sank their teeth into the sly excesses of Il Re, the work of a master determined at the end of his life to show off everything he had learned—and to laugh as he did so. It was a delight to make this score’s acquaintance in such circumstances.
From The Italian Voice
Teatro Grattacielo Presents Two Verismo Masterpieces at Rose Hall
by Nino Pantano
Duane D. Printz, Founding and Executive Director of Teatro Grattacielo, evokes the memory of a radio series, entitled "Mr. Keene, tracer of lost persons." Ms. Printz is the tracer of lost verismo treasures of opera. On Tuesday evening May 24th, a large enthusiastic audience at Rose Hall at Lincoln Center had an operatic sundae not with one scoop but with two scoops and all the trimmings. It was a "doube bill" of two delicious concoctions in concert with the theme "Love Lost . . . Love Won!" ...
Gerard Powers was a dashing Baldo, his beautiful lyric tenor pushed to the limits with the passionate outpourings required by the almost Wagnerian score. "Non penere" was sung with Italianate fervor. Mr. Powers is a matinee Idol in looks and talent. ...
Maestro David Wroe was the excellent chef sometimes required to "lower the flame" of this masterly and delightful dish. Agnese Riccitelli, great-grandniece of the composer was the proud and happy guest of honor.
Classical Music Rocks
Being able to attend grand-scale opera performances featuring international stars at the one and only Met is of course one of the many wonderful perks enjoyed by music-loving New Yorkers. But other smaller, and much smaller, companies also provide significant musical delights in their own way, and I try to make a point of periodically checking them out. That’s how I found myself at the wonderful Rose Theater of the Lincoln Center last night, for a double bill of Italian one-act operas in concert on the theme “Love Lost… Love Won!”. The lyric comedy I Compagnacci and the fable in three scenes Il Re sounded just like the perfect nice little pick-me-up with the promise of melodic music, lyrical singing and… happy ends!