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April 16, 2010

Knock-Out Handel

One of the great things about the New York City Opera has always been the way they perform Handel, so it's a pleasure to see that after their hiatus, building renovation, and change of regime, they are still outstanding in this regard.  The rarely performed Partenope, which I saw there last night, was a complete delight from start to finish.  The two Princely counter-tenors, Iestyn Davies and Anthony Roth Costanzo, were both remarkable, with such a smooth, rich tone to their voices that they sounded more "natural" in their range than the perfectly good soprano and mezzo-soprano who played Queen Partenope and Princess Rosmira.  Another stand-out, I thought, was Nicholas Coppolo, who gave a beautiful performance in terms of acting AND singing in the small but important role of the braggart Emilio. In fact, all of the acting in this production was excellent, which can be attributed partly to the intelligence of Francisco Negrin's direction (restaged in this case by Andrew Chown).  What Negrin realized was that, in order for the opera to be both funny and moving, the repetitious lines and the exceedingly high vocal range had to be made sense of -- and he did this by essentially portraying all the characters (except the tutor Ormonte, a bass-baritone) as spoiled, querulous children.  It helped that all the singers were young enough to carry this off.  But that too is part of the pleasure of New York City Opera: it's always fun to discover great new singers on its stage before the rest of the world finds out about them, and in this production both Costanzo and Coppolo were having their New York debuts. Long may the reinvigorated NYCO reign in its redesigned (with aisles!  at long last!) David Koch Theater.
April 16, 2010 8:26 AM | | Comments (0)

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