Music and Vision homepage Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller


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Mr Bernardo, now in his second season with LOC, and Mr Field, in his sixth, bring a wealth of experience in business and the arts, not to mention a distinct fondness for opera, to this company which specializes in summer performances with a slight twist. Each opera is carefully planned and staged to have a first act that lasts close to an hour, after which follows an hour-long intermission. Just the perfect length for a picnic, which is, indeed, an indulgence engaged in -- and highly anticipated -- by most of Lyric Opera's audience.

A huge tent has risen on the grounds of the Cleveland PlayHouse (the performing home of Lyric Opera) but in case of inclement weather, there is abundant space for tables and chairs in the foyers and galleries of the building. Non-alcoholic beverages and desserts are available for purchase, if desired, although many patrons partake of the catered self-contained 'box dinners'. Or bring their own, of course. Regardless, it's a refreshing interlude that provides a chance to meet and chat with opera-loving friends. Each of the three scheduled operas will have four performances over a two week span.

Opening on 7 July 2004, this Mikado will have to be seen to be believed. As Mr Field explains: 'This operetta was really British writers interpreting Feudal Japan for British audiences, so we're just taking it one step further -- back to Tudor England.' Yes, you read that correctly. It will be set in the England of Henry VIII, and costumed accordingly. Henry is really the Lord High Executioner ('off with their heads!'), with the other characters based on other Tudor folk of that era, complete with rigid social caste system. The directing team from the 2002 acclaimed production of Patience is returning for this one: director Philip Kraus and conductor Dennis Northway. Hold on to your bowlers!

Normally scheduled to direct two of the operas in each season, Mr Field, having graciously relinquished the opening spot to Mr Adamo, will be in charge of the final production, Mozart's opera buffo Cosi fan tutte, with the orchestra conducted by Henry Mollicone. Mr Field's version will 'in some ways be straight, manners, etc, but when they become Albanians, they become slightly feminized. But yet they must be believable.' The surprise here is that he has concocted three different endings to the opera, and during the intermission of each performance, the audience may vote for the ending of choice.

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Copyright © 17 June 2004 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA


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