Oct. 4 FYI: Opera previews works of tears, farce

Works of two Italian born composers, whose lives slightly overlapped, will be center stage when David Bamberger, artistic director of the Cleveland Institute of Music Opera Theater, brings talented voices to the FYI: Opera program on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 7:30 p.m., at Westlake Porter Public Library, 27333 Center Ridge Road.  

The focus of this FYI: Opera program, sponsored by the Westlake-Westshore Arts Council, are two one-act operas to be performed by CIM Opera at its November season opening. From these operas, "Suor Angelica" (“Sister Angelica”) by Giacomo Puccini and "Amelia Al Ballo" (“Amelia Goes to the Ball”) by Gian Carlo Menotti, selected arias will be performed on Oct. 4.

Bamberger promises that the voice students, who perform at the FYI: Opera program, will reflect the diversity of CIM students. There will be gifted performers from Korea and Israel, as well as from the United States. Following Bamberger’s expert introductory observations, singers will be accompanied by pianist John Simmons, CIM music director.

Puccini’s "Suor Angelica" conveys a poignant story of a girl put in a convent by a cold, unfeeling family. The composer’s score, which was written in 1918, just 6 years before his death, succeeds in touching the listener’s heart and soul, as only Puccini can. In his "Encyclopedia of the Opera," author David Ewen quotes Puccini as saying he was unlike Wagner and Verdi, that he “made the music of only small things.” Ewen reflected that if Puccini’s world was comparatively small “he was its lord and master.”

Menotti’s "Amelia Al Ballo" was considered his first mature opera. "Amelia" and two other operas are the only ones he wrote in Italian. He wrote all the rest in English and, like Wagner, Menotti wrote the librettos for his operas. Menotti began writing music at the age of 11, and at the age of 13, in 1923 (the year before Puccini died) he was enrolled in the Milan Conservatory. Following the death of his father, Menotti’s mother brought him to the United States and in 1928 enrolled him at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music.

While at Curtis, when Menotti was in his mid-20s, he wrote "Amelia Goes to the Ball," which was premiered in Philadelphia in 1937 and performed at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1938. In 1951, Menotti, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, wrote "Amahl and the Night Visitors," the first opera commissioned for television. "Amahl" became an annual Christmas tradition and is the composer’s most popular work.

The Oct. 4 program is part of the FYI: Opera series, offered free to the public, by the WWAC, which has sponsored the series for 25 years. The FYI program presents a preview of CIM’s fully costumed production of "Suor Angelica" and "Amelia Al Ballo" which will be performed Nov. 9-12 at CIM’s Kulas Hall in University Circle.

Louise Seeholzer

Publicist for Westlake-Westshore Arts Council

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Volume 8, Issue 18, Posted 9:49 AM, 09.20.2016