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<<  -- 3 --  Bill Newman    CELEBRATORY PARADE


Even in the relative calm openings of Act 1, scene 2 where Annina and her friends Carmela and Assunta are dressing the young girl Concettina for the procession, there are undercurrents of menace beneath the light-hearted jollity. When Michele again bursts in (following his unwelcome first appearance in Scene 1), the tension rises suddenly. Then he is beaten up and tied to a fence where he is rescued by his mistress, Desideria.

You immediately sense she will be shortly knifed by the jealous Michele, without reading the synopsis, during the wedding reception in the following act. It is all a combination of wonderful theatre and a superb musical score, and the grimy backdrop and bleak bedlam of the subway at the start of the third act with Maria Corona at her news stand, her mute son still clinging to her dress, trying to 'hide' Annina from her fugitive brother, has the reality of some sleezy gangster movie.

This poses great responsibilities on lead performers, and when one adds the strong sense of stillness and realism required during Act 1, scene 1, Act 3, scene 2, where Annina, her close friends, the priest Don Marco and Michele enact one of the most poignant and exacting of subjects set for the stage, small wonder there were cast weaknesses.

Julia Melinek as Annina has the acting ability, but a vibrato in mid-range marred her powerful projection. Timothy Richards as Michele lacked fullness of voice. His tone and portrayal would be more suited to Bernstein's West Side Story, two years on. Perhaps past comparisons with David Poleri and Raymond Nilsson are unfair, but their richer, firmer deliveries had more conviction. Pamela Helen Stephen as Desideria was quite superb, and John Maecus Bibdel's Don Marco matched earlier memories of Covent Garden's Jess Walters.

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Copyright © 20 November 2001 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK






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