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There was nothing dull about the acting and singing of these young, vivacious artists, however. Tenor Dimitri Pittas was a robust-voiced Rodolfo who loved Mimi dearly and sang her praises with dulcet tones. As his love interest, Italian soprano Serena Farnocchia made the most beautiful sounds as she enunciated her native language, but she looked a bit matronly in her costumes. James Westman cut a dashing figure as Marcello and sang with well-projected dark resonance. Musetta, Nicole Cabell, showed why she won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Contest with her fine singing, musicality and good looks. She is definitely a star in the making.

Dimitri Pittas and Serena Farnocchia in 'La bohème'. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard
Dimitri Pittas and Serena Farnocchia in 'La bohème'. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard

The Colline, diminutive Russian bass Alexander Vinogradov, was a fun loving Bohemian, but he seemed a bit hesitant when he sang his aria. Timothy Nolen was a thoroughly amusing Benoit while Wilbur Pauley was a younger, more virile Alcindoro than is usually seen. For most of the evening Corrado Rovaris allowed the orchestra to play quite loudly. The singers might have projected their voices more easily if he had held down the level of the orchestral sound. Their playing was always accurate and in tune, however, and this was a magical opera in the perfect setting for a romantic tragedy.

Susanna Phillips, Katharine Goeldner and Susanne Mentzer in 'Cosi fan tutte'. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard
Susanna Phillips, Katharine Goeldner and Susanne Mentzer in 'Cosi fan tutte'. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard

On the next night, Tuesday 21 August, the company revived its 2003 production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Cosi fan tutte with some surprising differences. The metallic scenery by Allen Moyer and the 1950s costumes by David C Woolard were the same, but the singers and their interpretations were not. James Robinson's direction told the story in updated fashion but, musically, this was much closer to the type of performance one could hear in the composer's time.

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Copyright © 1 September 2007 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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