On Saturday I was very happy to return to dell'Arte Opera to hear this weekend's cast perform Le Nozze di Figaro. (See my impressions of the cast from last weekend here.) I won't compare the two casts with each other, either as a whole or on a role-by-role basis. Nothing about last weekend's cast should be inferred from my comments about this weekend's cast. Both casts are equal in talent and accomplishment. There is no first or second cast, no A or B. To borrow from the 1980s movie Steel Magnolias, let's call the two casts Blush and Bashful.
I've already written about the Bashful cast. (Click here.) The Blush cast, which I saw on Saturday night, had many delightful standouts. First is Susanna, who owns the entire opera. Alexa Smith has a high, light soprano voice, and although she was sometimes out-balanced with the orchestra and other singers in ensembles, there was never a note or phrase that did not fall upon the ear with delight. Ms. Smith' Susanna had a great chemistry with all the characters she interacted with. Seung-Hyeong Baek was a rather angry and flustered Count Almaviva. He was a perfect foil for this Susanna. His singing was a little dark occasionally, but always seemed right for the message portrayed. Natasha Nelson was a delightful Cherubino, singing beautifully and acting the pubescent boy awkwardly. I can not fail to mention the Don Basilio of Milan Rakić, who was delightfully smarmy, and could be heard in ensembles.
The orchestra for both Blush and Bashful was the Metamorphosis Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of this show's Music Director, John Spencer. In this case comparison is fair, since it is two performances of the same group. I felt like I was a bit harsh--well, harsh for me--in what I wrote about the orchestra's performance on Nozze's opening night. They did sound under-rehearsed on opening night, as I stated, but boy howdy, have they come a long way! They sounded much more polished, more together, more rehearsed after a week.
Recall that dell'Arte Opera Ensemble's Beaumarchais Festival runs through August 30, and that tickets are still available. Go to any of the shows remaining. You won't regret it!