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PiratesCast

by Daniel Hathaway

Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Savoy Operas” most often get performed by amateur theatrical companies, or, if you’re lucky, by professional musical theater troupes. Those productions can be charming and entertaining enough, but when you put such delightful works into the hands of experienced opera singer-actors and a skillful director, something quite extraordinary can happen.

Last weekend, Opera Per Tutti joined forces with the Chagrin Falls Studio Orchestra to present three performances of William Schwenck Gilbert and Arthur Seymour Sullivan’s 1879 operetta, The Pirates of Penzance, that took the work to an entirely new level.

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by Mike Telin

Pirates-posterWhen Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance premiered in New York on December 31, 1879, the two-act comic opera was immediately popular with audiences and critics alike. Today Pirates remains one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most-performed operas. This weekend, Opera Per Tutti will present three performances of the amusing pirate story at the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre on Friday and Saturday, September 12 and 13 at 8:00 pm and Sunday, September 14 at 2:00 pm. Steven Eva will conduct the Chagrin Studio Orchestra in this fully-staged production.

Given the popularity of Pirates of Penzance, how does a stage director add his or her own artistic stamp to the work? “That’s a good question,” Opera Per Tutti artistic director Scott Skiba said during a recent telephone call. “I don’t know if I have a stamp to put on it. I just want audiences to become immersed in the work and not be aware of the director. There is a lot of slapstick and there are a lot of funny gags, but they are all driven by the characters and their relationships with one another. I think Pirates is absolutely brilliant. Audiences don’t have to get the political humor from Gilbert & Sullivan’s time in order to understand the opera.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

OPT-Rondine-2Opera is fun! Even if in the end all parties do not live happily ever after. Still, when everything works during a performance, when it all comes together, one would be hard pressed to find a more entertaining way to spend three hours than at the opera.

On Friday, March 28 and Sunday, March 30 in Cleveland Public Theatre’s Gordon Square Theatre, Opera Per Tutti presented a magnificent production of Giacomo Puccini’s La Rondine. I attended Sunday’s performance and indeed, it all worked.

La Rondine (the Swallow) is one of Puccini’s lesser-known operas and in fact it is the composer’s sole experiment in writing operetta. Although it has never been produced as often as some of his more popular works, with this vocally splendid cast combined with brilliant staging by Scott Skiba and deft coordination between the pit and stage by conductor Domenico Boyagian, Opera Per Tutti certainly made a case for La Rondine to get more face time with audiences. Theatrically speaking, the plot is lively with a nice mix of comedy and drama without ever becoming tragic. But above all, Puccini’s score is gorgeous.

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by Mike Telin

RehearsalOpera Per Tutti Artistic Director Scott Skiba has one thing to say about this week’s performances of Puccini’s La Rondine. “I want YOU to come to the opera! If you’ve never been to hear opera, this is a great place to start,” Skiba exclaimed with enthusiasm during a recent telephone conversation. “There’s comedy as well as great drama, and Puccini’s music is beautiful. And, if you’re already a lover of opera, the production presents a rare opportunity for you to see one of his lesser performed works.”

On Friday, March 28 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, March 30 at 3:00 pm in Cleveland Public Theatre’s Gordon Square Theatre, Opera Per Tutti presents a fully staged production of Giacomo Puccini’s La Rondine. “This is our biggest production to date, and it really is ideal for anyone who is new to opera,” Skiba said, adding that he believes that opera is not about things that happened hundreds of years ago. “It is something that is timeless. It isn’t a story about what happened, it is a story about what happens.”

La Rondine (The Swallow) has an interesting history, and as Skiba points out, “it is Puccini’s experiment in writing operetta.”

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by Mike Telin

ANELLI-AndreaSince the premiere of Puccini’s Il trittico in 1918 at the Metropolitan Opera, the three one-act operas that comprise The Triptych have continued to be audience favorites. On Friday, Friday, April 19 at 7:30 and Sunday, April 21st at 3:00 pm, Cleveland Public Theatre’s Opera Company in Residence, Opera Per Tutti (OPT) will complete The Triptych cycle with productions of Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi.

The time was right for us to take this on, “OPT founder and executive director Andrea Anelli told us by telephone. “We had a successful production of Il tabarro, and we wanted to finish The Triptych as well as to stage productions that involved a larger cast, and part of my goal is to provide other opportunities for area artists. Then of course there is my personal love of Puccini.”

Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi are co-productions with Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT) and Anelli says that being invited to become CPT’s resident opera company has made it possible for her company to produce larger-scale works. Read the rest of this entry »

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Daniel Hathaway
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Mike Telin
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