BWW Review: L'ITALIANA IN ALGERI at Sarasota Opera House
As the curtain rises we get the immediate feeling that male masculinity is the theme of this testosterone-driven plot. The phallic symbolism overshadowing the stage architecture is no mistake. Kudos to scenic designer, Michael Schweikardt, for setting the tone.
The plot surrounds Mustafa, (Harold Wilson), the arrogant Bey of Algiers who finds himself bored with his submissive harem and losing interest in his wife Elivra, (Jessica E. Jones). He needs a new love interest to ignite his virility and tasks his slave, Haly, (Alexander Charles Boyd), to find him a fiery Italian girl to challenge his machismo and boost his ego. Mustafa decides to marry off his devoted wife Elviria to his slave, Lindoro, (Hak Soo Kim). However, Lindoro has his sights on his Italian homeland fiancé, Isabella, (Tara Venditti). Elvira's sweet confidante, Zulma, (Fleur Barron), tries to offer her support through this ordeal.
As fate would have it, Isabella and her love-struck companion Taddeo, (Bruno Taddia), become shipwrecked in Algiers. When Mustafa hears about the Italian girl at his shores, he has Isabella and Taddeo captured. Isabella proves to be a confidant woman and shows her prowess in handling cavalier men while mentoring the other young ladies to follow in her expertise. Now, the already sordid plot begins to thicken. The chaos that ensues is delightfully entertaining as each character comes to life in brilliant song, impeccable stage direction, (Mark Freiman), and beautiful costuming, (Howard Tsvi Kaplan). This well cast performance shows off not only the substantial vocal abilities of these performers but also their sense of comedic timing and devotion in allowing each other to shine. The Act 1 finale is an impressive scenario to watch as each of the main characters articulates their bewilderment by imitating a variety of hilarious contortions, thumping sounds and pulsating gyrations.