Collegiate Opera at Spoleto
UNDER THE SUPERVISION of faculty members David Templeton (director and producer), Deanna McBroom (musical director), and Irina Pevzner (pianist), Gianni Schicchi comes alive through an accomplished cast of College of Charleston students.
Tenor Jonathan White, singing the role of Rinuccio, has a warm, full-bodied, and smooth voice that excels in a technically demanding role. He controls his loudness well, presenting his recitative parts clearly and in excellent Italian, while filling the room with power. As well as having a strong voice, Jonathan lends an authoritative air to the stage with his movement and acting skills.
In a conversation after the performance, he commented on the quality of the performance by cast and crew, noting the excellent direction and training by the faculty. Admitting that his voice still has a few years to reache maturity, he nonetheless looks forward to a career as a professional. If his performance in Gianni Schicchi is any indication, his future prospects in opera are promising indeed.
Soprano Carina Gerscovich, possessor of a clear, melodious voice, sings the role of Lauretta. She holds her own in the production and delivers a fine rendition of the opera’s most famous aria, O Mio Babbino Caro, which demands a soaring, mellifluous voice.
Baritone Daniel Lentz sings the title role, Gianni Schicchi. The stage direction of this production asks much of the character: singing from a bed, on the floor, and while moving around the stage. Given these demands, Daniel occasionally has some difficulty with his range and volume, but manages nevertheless to produce a solid performance.
Notable in this production is the piano as the only musical instrument. Over 50 minutes, Irina Pevzner guides the opera with a wonderfully controlled effort, displaying the full range of softness and power with nary a pause. It is worth noting that many productions of Gianni Schicchi include a full orchestra, and it is a credit to Irina that you hardly notice the absence of other instruments.
Aside from the quality of the voices, the difference between professional and amateur productions is often found in set design and stage direction. In this production, the College of Charleston Opera deserves high marks for its set, costumes, lighting, and direction. The stage is alive with movement, and the lighting and costumes combine to create a setting that, at times, reminds you of a Vermeer painting with its use of light, color, and shadows.
Gianni Schicchi is a worthy addition to the Piccolo Spoleto Special Events musical series. The College of Charleston Opera delivers a quality production that Puccini would be proud of, and that audiences will surely enjoy.
Click to buy tickets at www.spoletousa.org