Little Opera Theatre of NY to Present Rossini's OPPORTUNITY MAKES THE THIEF at 59E59 Theaters, 2/22-3/2
The Little Opera Theatre of NY announces its Winter 2014 production of Gioachino Rossini's one-act rarity, Opportunity Makes the Thief (L'occasione fa il ladro, ossia Il cambio della valigia ). Eight performances will be presented from February 22 through March 2, 2014 at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues). Performance times are 8:15 pm for Fridays and Saturdays, including February 22, February 28, and March 1; 7:15 pm for Tuesday-Thursday performances, including February 25, 26, 27, and 3:15 pm for two Sunday matinees, February 23, and March 2. Tickets are $35 ($24.50 for 59E59 Member), and can be purchased online at www.59e59.org; by phone at (212) 279-4200; or at the 59E59 Theaters' Box Office.
The production is directed by Philip Shneidman, conducted by James Bagwell, with set design by award-winning designer Neil Patel, costume design by Lara de Bruijn, and lighting design by Mike Riggs. The double cast for Opportunity Makes the Thief features Sharin Apostolou/ Julie-Anne Hamula, sopranos (Berenice); Cabiria Jacobsen/ Elizabeth Pojanowski, mezzo-sopranos (Ernestina); Joseph Flaxman/ Eric McKeever, baritones (Don Parmenione); K'idar Miller/ Nicholas Simpson, tenors (Count Alberto); Adelmo Guidarelli/ Matthew Singer, baritones (Martino); and John Kapusta/ Marcos Vigil, tenors (Don Eusebio). Sung in English, these performances mark the New York premiere of the English-language version translated by Mark Herman and Ronnie Apter.
Composed in a mere eleven days, Opportunity Makes the Thief was first performed on November 24, 1812 at the Teatro San Moisè in Venice. It was one of five, one-act operas by Rossini, and while the first run lasted only five performances, the opera was frequently performed during the composer's lifetime. A "burletta per musica" (farsa), the libretto was written by Luigi Prividali, a theatrical agent, journalist, and a "part time transcriber of French vaudeville," and was an adaptation of Eugène Scribe's play entitled Le Prétendu par hazard, ou L'Occasion fait le larron, which had premiered Paris couple of years earlier. The Italian title L'occasione fa il ladro" originally carried the added subtitle Il cambio della valigia (The Exchanged Suitcase), a reference to the plot twist.
The opera opens with three travelers taking refuge in an inn during a storm. Count Alberto is on his way to meet Berenice, a woman to whom he is betrothed but has never met. Another traveler, Don Parmenione , is trying to find a friend's sister who has mysteriously disappeared. He is accompanied by Martino. When the storm clears Alberto departs accidentally taking Parmenione's suitcase with him. When Martino and Parmenione open the remaining suitcase, they discover a portrait of a young woman, along with the Count's fine clothes. Parmenione decides to masquerade as Alberto and claim the woman for himself. Turmoil ensues when both the impostor and the original show up at the same doorstep in search of a bride.
Musically, Opportunity Makes the Thief features a central quintet which is longer than the sextet in Mozart's Don Giovanni-in fact, according, to opera critic Charles Osborne, it is nearly as long as the Mozart opera's act I finale. Additionally, Rossini dispenses of the traditional opera overture with a more descriptive orchestral tableau illustrative of the opening stage direction which calls for thunder and lightning.
Neglected after his death, L'occasione fa il ladro (ossia Il cambio della valigia) was revived at Pesaro in 1892 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of his birth, and has enjoyed a number of modern revivals including, among others, the Rossini Opera Festival, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, director, and the Buxton Opera Festival in 1987; and Opera North in 2004 in an English-language adaptation entitled Love's Luggage Lost, directed by Christopher Alden and conducted by David Parry.