Transgressive Theatre-Opera's spring concert productions
Rossini’s Count Ory (March 22 & 23, 2019)
Letters of Love and Subterfuge (March 29 & 30, 2019)
Transgressive Theatre-Opera completed its fourth season with a double header of operatic intrigue and passion.
The plot of Rossini’s comedy Count Ory (Le comte ory) is pure opera buffa. The titular count, a notorious libertine and scoundrel, and his crew of n’er-do-wells spend most of the opera trying to take advantage of the fact that most of the men in their area are away at war, leaving the ladies alone and, presumably, lonely for male company. He meets his match in the clever Countess Adele and the ladies in her castle, who rebuff his advances and outsmart him at every turn.
Tenor Max Hosmer was the Count, with mezzo-soprano Brittany Jeffery, last season’s Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, as his erstwhile page Isolier. Baritone Noah Gartner, Guglielmo in 2018’s Cosi, and bass Kota Terrace rounded out the Count’s posse, as his drinking buddy Raimbaud and his long-suffering tutor respectively. TT-O favorite, soprano Mary Lutz-Govertsen, was Countess Adele, with Angela Torres as her confidante Ragonde. Elizabeth Rudolph sang the role of Alice. TT-O examined what the piece might have been if Rossini composed within the opera comique-genre that his opening night audience was expecting, which negatively affected its initial reception. Some of the grandest musical moments were pared back (but all of the most famous sections left intact), and while the opera was sung in French (with English subtitles) the recitatives were re-imagined as dialogue, and spoken in English. A secondary love-couple was added, Jacqueline and Jack, who sang duets interpolated from other, lesser-known Rossini operas. Soprano Teaira Burge and tenor Brian Pember essayed tese new characters, involved in a more traditionally recognizable lyric theatre-relationship.
Whether it be by letter, telegraph, email, or text, written communication is one of the perpetual glories and frustrations of humanity, and it is no different in opera. Letters of Love and Subterfuge was an evening focusing on letters and documents in opera. The program featured both favorite artists from past productions and new voices performing a wide-ranging array of works from both opera and musical theater, including The Consul, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Andrea Chenier, Falstaff, Il barbiere di siviglia, and more. Several of the artists from Count Ory did double-duty in the program’s second half, Act II from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, performed in the original Italian.
Featured were sopranos Teaira Burge, Emily Cox, Claire DiVizio, Karen Hunt, Rachael Long, Jessie Lyons, Mary Lutz-Govertsen, and Elizabeth Rudolph; mezzo-sopranos Brittany Jeffery, Jori Jennings, Denise Knowlton, Angela Torres, and Pamela Torrey; countertenor Bruno Rivera; tenors Erich Buchholz, Alex Carey, Stan DeCwikiel, Ryan Frenk, Brian Pember, and Paul W. Thompson; baritones Steven Arvanites, Noah Gartner, Stephen Hobe, Nathan James Kistler, Robert Potsic, and Artega Wright; and bass Kota Terrace, This was a concert to be remembered, with all the music delivered in the original languages. The arias and ensembles were presented lightly staged, as in the context of a opera scenes concert, and the Le Nozze section was fully staged and conducted by musical director Sarah Jenks.
All performances took place in the auditorium space of Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 1650 North Foster Avenue, in Chicago.