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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.
by Mike Telin
When 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 J.D. Goddard
On Good Friday evening, March 29, led by music director Todd Wilson, the Trinity Cathedral Choir, pianists Elizabeth DeMio and Elizabeth Lenti, soprano Judith Overcash, baritone Zachary Rusk and baritone Ray Liddle joined forces to perform Johannes Brahms’s German Requiem.
In the nineteenth century it was not unusual for orchestral compositions to be arranged for piano, thus making in-home performances more readily available. Brahms completed his German Requiem in 1868, and immediately prepared a scaled down version of the work for piano four hands and chorus. It was actually premiered in a home in 1872.
This scaled-down piano version is not without interest, but those who are used to hearing the orchestral version may find it softened and somewhat bland. Though Brahms did not intend listeners to this non-liturgical requiem to shudder in fear for their souls, it is impossible not to feel a sense of guilt and veneration when lambasted by a massive chorus with full orchestra. Heard as it was this evening, this requiem became a gentler work but the intensity and emotional involvement of the singers made for a deeply religious experience. Read the rest of this entry »