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Review: LA CENERENTOLA at JUDY Bayley Theatre

Cinderella has fled the royal ball having left her bracelet with the Prince as a remembrance. On June 8, 23018, Opera Las Vegas presented a jubilant version of Gioacchino Rossini's LA CENERENTOLA (CINDERELLA) in Las Vegas at the University of Nevada's Judy Bayley Theatre. Director Audrey Chait injected some form of comedy, often slapstick, into every possible situation and the result was an evening of one laugh after another.

Lily Bartenstein's rather plain scenic designs were effective for Cinderella's home but could have done a great deal more to to reinforce the concept of the princely palace. Malabar's costumes placed the action at the time of the fairy tale, but the designs were not overly tasteful and the chorus outfits did not always fit well. However, Ginny Adams' ambient lighting did help smooth out some of the rough spots.

Mary Beth Nelson was Cinderella, the serious character around whom the comedy revolves. She sang with considerable technical expertise that included a well modulated trill and a panoply of vocal colors. She threw her inhibitions to the wind late in her final aria, "Nacqui all'afanno" ("I was born into worry and weeping"), and let the audience hear the extent of her wide range. It will be interesting to see where her career goes from here.

As Clorinda and Tisbe, Adelaide Boedecker and Danielle Marcelle Bond were purposefully silly and as spoiled as they thought the Prince might be. Unfortunately, Rossini's music did not allow them to demonstrate much of their singing ability. As Dandini, Brian James Myer was an amusing Dandini who tried to pour some sense into Clorinda and Tisbe's fuzz-filled heads. His voice was delightfully resonant and he acted his part with panache.

Tenor Gregory Schmidt was a thoughtful Prince who had no interest in the silly sisters or their laughably crude attempts at seduction. Although he may have been miscast, he gave the role his all and created a likeable character. A true buffo, Adelmo Guidarelli was a hystirically funny Don Magnifico whose great aria "Miei rampalli femminini" gave him a chance to play with his role and its fast patter. Thus, he showed the audience his excellent dramatic timing and various facets of Magnifico's not-so-glorious character while singing fast and loud. Of course, he won the drinking contest as well.

Since Gabriel Manro first appeared as a pitiable beggar, his reappearance as the commanding tutor, Alidoro, showed his ability to be different and convincing characters. His voice was strong and his characterizations melded the various parts of this opera together. Joseph Svendsen's male chorus sang with synchronized rhythms and beauteous harmony while climbing and cavorting around the stage. They were fun to watch and a joy to hear.

Joshua Horsch, winner of the 2016-2017 American Prize in Opera Conducting, led this performance energetically, but at a slower pace than expected. He was, however, uncompromising in his rhythmic detail. With only nineteen instrumentalists, nearly every one was a soloist and that may have led to a pace that everyone, from the single hornist to the multiple patter singers, found comfortable. The comedy moved at a lightening pace and no aspect was overlooked. Maestro Horsch held stage and pit together so that no note was ever lost. Those who can be in Las Vegas on Sunday June 10, 2018, should be sure to catch the final matinee performance of this show.

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