Serenata-Something Like An Opera

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lennygoran
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Serenata-Something Like An Opera

Post by lennygoran » Sat May 06, 2017 6:19 am

We decided to pass on this but it might have been a mistake-it sounds like a delight! We had gone to last season's Hopper's Wife at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse. We've been trying to attend and support most of NYCO's productions which we've really enjoyed-we'll also have to miss their upcoming Angels in America but look forward to their new season announcement whenever it is put out. Regards, Len


Review: Is ‘Los Elementos’ Opera? That’s Beside the Point

By JAMES R. OESTREICH MAY 5, 2017


As the reconstituted New York City Opera continues to test its sea legs with a second presentation in its series Ópera en Español, it would be nitpicky and pointless to insist on calling this latest installment “Ópera (o Algo Parecido) en Español.” But strictly speaking, “Los Elementos,” by the 18th-century Spanish master Antonio de Literes (which follows the Mexican composer Daniel Catán’s “Florencia en el Amazonas” of last June), is only “something like” an opera.

“Los Elementos” (“The Elements”), which opened at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse on Thursday evening in what City Opera said was its American premiere, runs just over an hour and offers little action or plot. It consists mainly of debate: one-upmanship among the allegorical figures Earth, Air, Fire and Water as they await the dawn, with interventions from Time and the Dawn itself. Some have avoided the touchy “opera” category entirely by calling it a serenata, a sort of dramatic cantata popular in the Baroque period.

Still, by whatever designation, “Los Elementos” proved a musical delight and a charming entertainment. Literes claimed to be writing in the Italian style, and much of the piece’s texture is vintage Baroque, carried out at a high level. But the most delectable moments were those laced with Spanish flavor, with castanet and proto-flamenco rhythms. The finale was especially evocative, with its repeated short-breathed refrains and its irresistible dance drive.

The lively production has been directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford, with a mostly young cast. Literes called for women in all the roles except Time, and making them quickly identifiable took some doing from Mr. Stafford’s helpmates. John Farrell, the scenic designer, relied chiefly on projections, which allowed him to represent Fire and Water simultaneously during their duets. Janet O’Neill, the costume designer, used colors and devised elaborate headdresses to distinguish the Elements. And Mr. Stafford added his own touches, having Samarie Alicea, as Air, and Chelsea Bonagura, as Water, undulate their arms throughout.
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But perhaps the most vivid portrayal of the evening was that of the mezzo-soprano Kelsey Robertson as Fire, with a verisimilitude achieved largely through the quality of her singing. In long stretches of coloratura, especially, her legato, while smooth, retained remarkable clarity of pitch and evenness of rhythm, flickering like a lambent flame.

The other Elements — Ms. Alicea, Ms. Bonagura and Melanie Askar, as Earth, all in their company debuts — also showed real talent and promise, though not always ideally controlled. Intonation was problematic at times, especially in duets and ensembles. Magda Gartner, a bright-toned mezzo-soprano, was effective as the Dawn. Marco Nisticò, a baritone, made a gruff Time. The small stage was additionally populated by two appealing, hard-working dancers, Esther Antoine and Adam Rogers. The movements of the four choristers were also heavily choreographed.

The dozen instrumentalists played behind the scrim used for the projections, individuals sometimes visible in shadow. Though they were identified as the New York City Opera Orchestra, several were early-instrument specialists, including Grant Herreid, who contributed strongly on theorbo and guitar. Pacien Mazzagatti, the company’s principal conductor, led from the harpsichord.

Los Elementos
Through Sunday at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse, Manhattan; nycopera.com.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/05/arts ... ic-reviews

John F
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Re: Serenata-Something Like An Opera

Post by John F » Sat May 06, 2017 10:12 am

Mozart's "Il sogno di Scipione" K. 125 is called a serenata. It was staged and is not distinguishable from Mozart's other operas and stage works of the period. I never heard of “Los Elementos” or Antonio de Literes, but there's no reason why it shouldn't be staged, and I assume the "New York City Opera" is doing it as an opera. Otherwise why are they doing it at all? The Wikipedia article on Literes calls his dramatic works "zarzuelas" but doesn't name this one.
John Francis

maestrob
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Re: Serenata-Something Like An Opera

Post by maestrob » Sat May 06, 2017 11:58 am

The baritone Marco Nistico started out singing in my competition in 1999, and made several Semifinals appearances, learning arias and scenes in basic repertoire from me. He had to return to Italy because his visa expired before I could invite him to be a finalist: he was very, very good and (I'm sure) would have won a prize, if not a First. An excellent singer, I'm surprised he hasn't advanced more in his career. A total gentleman colleague and a fast learner.

lennygoran
Posts: 12661
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: Serenata-Something Like An Opera

Post by lennygoran » Sat May 06, 2017 12:35 pm

John F wrote:
Sat May 06, 2017 10:12 am
Mozart's "Il sogno di Scipione" K. 125 is called a serenata. It was staged and is not distinguishable from Mozart's other operas and stage works of the period. I never heard of “Los Elementos” or Antonio de Literes, but there's no reason why it shouldn't be staged, and I assume the "New York City Opera" is doing it as an opera. Otherwise why are they doing it at all? The Wikipedia article on Literes calls his dramatic works "zarzuelas" but doesn't name this one.
Thanks for the info-if they were doing it at the Jazz Center I may have bought a ticket. Regards, Len

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