Six CIM voices reveal beauty of 'The Secret Marriage'

From left, Armando Contreras, Allyson Dezii, Daniel Grambow, Michelle Lujeunesse, Bethany Grace Mamula and Kevin Simmons captured their audience at FYI: Opera on Oct. 16.

David Bamberger, director of opera theater at the Cleveland Institute of Music, described Domenico Cimarosa as the Andrew Lloyd Webber of the 1790s. Then six CIM voice students, who accompanied Bamberger to Westlake Porter Public Library, on Oct. 16, proved Cimarosa’s music still captures audiences.

This Italian opera composer wrote more than 80 operas, including "Il matrimonio segreto" ("The Secret Marriage"), considered to be his masterpiece. Bamberger and company previewed CIM’s upcoming Nov. 7 to 10 production of this work at the FYI: Opera program, presented by the Westlake-Westshore Arts Council.

Cimarosa’s comic opera is filled with glorious music and funny situations revealing very recognizable traits of human nature. The opera’s voice and drama challenges were more than capably met by the talented, enthusiastic CIM students.

The story involves a wealthy merchant, Geronimo, who would like to see his daughters, Elisetta and Carolina, marry into nobility – as titles are something money cannot buy. However, his younger daughter Carolina is secretly married to her true love, Paolino. Count Robinson, who is betrothed to Elisetta, falls in love with Carolina. The girls’ aunt Fidalma loves Paolino and Geronimo is frantic. But following much plotting and romantic scheming, all ends humorously happy.

The tantalizing taste of the opera’s music began with a duet by soprano Bethany Grace Mamula as Carolina and tenor Kevin Simmons as Paolino who blended their voices and acting talents to capture the audience.  The fast pace of situations was demonstrated with the fine blending of four voices,  Daniel Grambow as Geronimo, Allyson Dezii as Elisetta, Michelle Lujeunesse as Fidalma and Mamula. They sounded wonderful and the acting set the excited tone of events.  

Dezii and Mamula were believable sisters exchanging snide remarks with Lujeunesse working at being a referee. Terrific acting accompanied the wonderful singing of the splendid trio and the sisters’ duets. Grambow as the father and Armando Contreras as the Count had some very adversarial conversations, which they delightfully depicted and superbly sung.

The singers’ artful performance of Cimarosa’s music could only be possible with masterful accompaniment, which they received from John Simmons, CIM music director. And as always, Bamberger set the scene for this rich opera preview with colorful details and humor.

Many members of the attentive FYI: Opera audience made plans to attend CIM’s fully staged and costumed performances of this magnificent work. Information and tickets for CIM’s production are available at cim.edu/promos/ilmatrimonio or by calling 216-795-3211.

Louise Seeholzer

Publicist for Westlake-Westshore Arts Council

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Volume 4, Issue 22, Posted 7:30 PM, 10.30.2012