Charles T. Downey, Washington Concert Opera offers Verdi rarity ‘I masnadieri’ in time for composer’s birthday (Washington Post, September 24, 2013)
Verdi, I masnadieri
It need not take the 200th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi’s birth to appreciate his importance in the history of opera, but it is a good excuse. Washington Concert Opera has dedicated its 2013-14 season to the Italian composer, beginning with a performance of the lesser-known “I masnadieri” on Sunday night at Lisner Auditorium. (Another Verdi rarity, “Il corsaro,” will follow in March.) [Continue reading]
Verdi, I masnadieri, M. Caballé, C. Bergonzi, New Philharmonia Orchesra, L. Gardelli
Washington Concert Opera
Soprano Lisette Oropesa has a pretty voice, with some fiery notes at the very top (taxed just a bit when she was challenged by the ensemble in tutti scenes), although minor intonation issues, caused partially by an intense vibrato that creeps in at points and perhaps a slight lack of breath support, brought the performance down a notch. Her physical beauty, however, will endear her to opera directors looking for high-definition closeups, and her face is highly expressive: in the "hate duet" with Francesco in Act II, she shot a large repertoire of angry glances in his direction, perfectly camera-ready.
Tenor Russell Thomas sang with an impressive squillo throughout a long evening, flagging just a bit in the last half-hour of the opera. The strain got to Scott Hendricks, who looked like he would burst a vein by the time of Francesco's Sogno (Hell nightmare) in Act IV. Although the choral numbers are risible, there are several rather gorgeous arias and ensembles: Amalia's Act II cavatina ("Tu del mio Carlo al sena"), with its harp and woodwind introduction; the slow part of Amalia's duet with Carlo in Act III, with its tender cadenza for both singers (and the optional E-flat at the final cadence of the fast section for Amalia, which Oropesa took); and Francesco's melodramatic hell aria in Act IV.