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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.
In its seventeen seasons, Cleveland’s enterprising Opera Circle has produced many titles by Bellini, Verdi, Donizetti and Mozart, and has taken on a rare work by Szymanowski, but some stones remain unturned. “We’ve never done Rossini and we wanted to do a comedy for a change”, said executive director and soprano Dorota Sobieska. The obvious choice was Barber of Seville, which will open on Friday, February 22 at 7:30 pm at the Bohemian National Hall in Cleveland with the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra led by Robert Cronquist. A second performance will be on Sunday the 24th at 3:00.
“We have a very strong cast for the opera”, Sobieska said in a phone conversation. Two of those singers, bass Timothy J. Bruno (Don Basilio, right) and tenor Matthew Miles (Count Almaviva, center), are especially well prepared for Barber, having sung in Opera Western Reserve’s one-night production last November at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown, a performance headlined by Lawrence Brownlee, one of the great bel canto tenors of our time. Read the rest of this entry »