59E59 Theaters Presents OPPORTUNITY MAKES THE THIEF, Now thru 3/2
59E59 Theaters welcomes the Little Opera Theatre of NY in its return with Rossini's comic opera OPPORTUNITY MAKES THE THIEF (L'OCCASIONE FA IL LADRO OSSIA IL CAMBIO DELLA VALIGIA), directed by Philip Shneidman and conducted by James Bagwell.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The design team includes: set design by award-winning designer Neil Patel, costume design by Lara de Bruijn, and lighting design by Mike Riggs.
Philip Shneidman (director) founded the Little Opera Theatre of NY. Last season he directed Gluck's The Reformed Drunkard. Previous seasons include Travelers, an original double bill of two one-act operas by Gustav Holst, Mitridate, re di Ponto - the NYC stage premiere; La finta giardiniera; and Man in a Black Coat- a world premiere by Inessa Zaretsky. Concerts include: Make Believe, The Bohemians and New York Music all at Socrates Sculpture Park. Shneidman has directed Eugene Onegin and Dialogues of the Carmelites at The Mannes College of Music. His theater directing credits include: A Drowned Girl  (HERE); Fully Committed (Adirondack Theatre Festival) Romeo & Juliet (Queens Theatre in the Park). On Broadway and at Lincoln Center Theater he has served as the Assistant Director on The Full Monty, A Delicate Balance, The Heiress, and Pride's Crossing. Stage Management highlights: Albert Herring (Aldeburgh Festival) and The Marriage of Figaro (Aspen Music Festival.)
James Bagwell (conductor) is the Music Director of the Collegiate Chorale. He also serves as Principal Guest Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra in New York. Since 2003, he has been Director of Choruses for the Bard Music Festival, conducting and preparing choral works during the annual summer festival. In August 2010, he led a production of the rarely performed operetta The Chocolate Soldier for Bard's SummerScape; in August 2011, he conducted Noel Coward's Bitter Sweet there and returned for his sixth season as chorus master for The Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. He has trained choruses for a number of major American and international orchestras and worked with such noted conductors as Lorin Maazel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Louis Langrée, Leon Botstein, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Raymond Leppard, James Conlon, Jesús López-Cobos, Erich Kunzel, Leon Fleischer, and Robert Shaw.
OPPORTUNITY MAKES THE THIEF begins performances today, February 22 for a limited engagement through Sunday, March 2. The performance schedule is Tuesday - Thursday at 7:15 PM; Friday - Saturday at 8:15 PM; and Sunday at 3:15 PM. Performances are at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues).
To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or go to www.59e59.org. Single tickets are $35 ($24.50 for 59E59 Members).