Review: Pittsburgh Opera opens season in ‘Grand and Glorious’ fashion |
More A&E

Review: Pittsburgh Opera opens season in ‘Grand and Glorious’ fashion

Mark Kanny
Pittsburgh Opera
Marianne Cornetti (right) and Jasmine Muhammad in 'Voi lo sapete' from Cavalleria Rusticana
Pittsburgh Opera
Angela Meade in 'Casta Diva' from Norma

Pittsburgh Opera’s season began as usual Oct. 18 at the Benedum Center, Downtown, but instead of a staged opera the company offered a gala concert with a generous sampling program of music from Italian, French and German operas, plus a Russian opera overture.

The singers performed at the front of the stage, with the orchestra behind them. There were no costumes, but the performers interacted in character.

The concert’s title, “Grand and Glorious,” might have referred to Richard Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger” Overture that began the event. Instead, music director Antony Walker emphasized that Wagner’s opera is a comedy. The pace was quick, but well sung in lyrical passages.

Soprano Angela Meade, making her Pittsburgh debut, was the first of the concert’s three vocal stars to perform. Her performance of “Bel raggio lusinghier” from Giachino Rossini’s “Semiramide” showed her remarkable combination of a rich, lustrous voice with excellent agility in ornamented music. Add her clarion high notes at the end of the aria, and she lit the fire for the evening.

Her other solos were a stately yet fervent account of “Casta Diva” from Vincenzo Bellini’s “Norma” and a well-contoured version of “Pace, pace mio dio” from Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino,” with breathtaking pianissimos at the end.

Dramatic mezzo-soprano Marianne Cornetti began with an intense account of “Voi lo sapete” from Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana,” and was in superb voice throughout. A Western Pennsylvania native who came up through Pittsburgh Opera’s program for young singers, she sings at top opera houses around the world.

Tenor Carl Tanner, who will star in the opera’s November performances of “Otello,” offered the sure-fire hit “Vesti la giubba” from Ruggerio Leoncavallo’s “I Pagliacci.” For all the powerful extroversion of his singing, he conveyed Canio’s inner torment.

Tanner, Cornetti and resident artist Corrie Stallings brought the first half of the concert to an intense conclusion with the confrontation scene between Santuzza and Turiddu in Mascagni’s opera. Stallings, in her first year with Pittsburgh Opera, was an asset as Lola, the third side of the romantic triangle.

The resident artists were generally quite impressive in the important repertoire they performed. The Quartet from Verdi’s “Rigoletto” followed Mikhail Glinka’s “Russlan and Ludmilla” Overture in the second half of the concert. Stallings was a last-minute substitute as Maddalena for another singer who became ill, and sang with the score in her hands and with less power than she had in the Mascagni. Tenor Adam Bonanni sang with a sweet and sincere beauty as the Duke, beautiful on its own terms but which made the villain sound like a nice guy. Adelaide Boedecker was superb as Gilda. Phillip Gay made a strong entrance as Rigoletto, but thereafter assumed a balanced role in a quartet dominated by the Duke.

The concert concluded with a dynamic performance of the final scene from Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.” Meade and Tanner turned their backs to the audience when their characters died, leaving Cornetti to inform the impressive resident artist Alex DeSocio that he has just killed his brother.

Contact Mark Kanny, classical music critic for Trib Total Media, at 412-320-7877 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.