The two young female leads, soprano Julie-Anne Hamula and mezzo Cabiria Jacobsen, were a delight to see and hear. Ms. Hamula is a lovely young soprano who, judging by the wide range of roles in her credits, is still finding the best repertoire for her beautiful voice. While I think she will wind up singing meatier roles than the ingenue Berenice, she sang the role quite capably on Friday night, coping with the vocal challenges in range, tessitura, and fioritura, and throwing herself into the silliness of the storyline and her character. I first saw Ms. Jacobsen in Bronx Opera's The Poisoned Kiss, and I thought she was among the best of a very capable cast. I say the same about her Ernestina Friday night. Seizing many comic opportunities and singing with great ease and comfort, she was a highlight of the evening.
I fear tenor Nicholas Simpson was miscast in the role of Alberto, the ardent young lover. His program bio and his web site both list much bigger roles than Alberto, and based on what I heard Friday night, I think those roles suit him better vocally. I also hear a young sound in need of further polish. Not to complain about his performance on Friday night, which in many ways was quite good, but I would quite like to hear him after another year or two of study.
The show sparkled with clever directorial touches. I liked having conductor James Bagwell interact with the audience and the singers, at one point pouring himself a strong drink. One of my favorite parts was Ms. Jacobsen's moment of mock self indulgence, bemoaning the fact her role had no aria, begging Mr. Bagwell to let her insert one from another Rossini opera at that point. [Sorry for that spoiler.] Mr. Bagwell and his very small orchestra played admirably, and it seemed communication between pit and singers was very clear.
Alas, there are only two more performances of this show, and I do believe both are sold out, so my recommendation to see it would be moot. But recommend it I do, for the show is great fun.