Bel Cantanti Opera Company gives young professional singers to transition from conservatory to a professional opera company. They produce lesser known works of opera and make it accessible to the DMV area.
The first short opera of the double bill is a Francis Poulenc piece, “La voix humaine,” with text by Jean Cocteau. The story follows a woman as she speaks to her former lover, who recently left her, for the last time. This final conversation, takes place on the phone, leaving the woman on stage alone for the entire piece. She searches for closure from her lover and alternates between hope and despair. She ultimately cannot face the world alone and takes her own life.
It is an excellent program for any opera fan.
The woman was played by Rachel Sigman, a role that she has conquered before. It was remarkable watching a woman alone on stage for one full hour singing the entire time. She did so effortlessly and with wonderful stamina. Sigman is a good actor who not only sang the role well but really allowed the audience into her emotional world.
Watching a woman have a phone conversation does not sound like the most compelling material for an opera. It could have easily gotten very boring but director Corinne Hayes used the space in a natural and interesting way.
The second piece is ‘Mozart and Salieri’ a short opera with music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and text by Aleksander Pushkin. Most Americans know this to be the story ‘Amadeus’ because of the film. It is the story of rivalry between Salieri and Mozart, though Mozart is mostly oblivious to Salieri’s loathing. Salieri believes that he has been chosen to eliminate Mozart because his existence is unfair to other artists. In this tale, Salieri poisons Mozart.
Rob McGinness plays the role of Salieri. His resonant baritone carries the power and emotion of this seriously conflicted man. McGinness is a strong actor who interacted well with his counterpart Michael Dodge as Mozart. Dodge is a good singer but unfortunately, his entrance vocals were buried in the underscore. Dodge has a pleasant and boyish look about him which is an excellent contrast to McGinness’ more stern appearance. Both men played off of each other well and allowed the audience to see their friendship.
Both pieces of this double bill were well performed and refreshing bits of opera to experience. It is an excellent program for any opera fan.
Running Time: Approximately two hours with one intermission.
Bel Cantanti Opera Company’s double bill of ‘La voix humaine’ and ‘ Mozart and Salieri’ run at the Randolph Road Theater through February 5. For tickets or more information click here.