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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
OPERA REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Friday, July 17, 2015
Allan Pollack, conductor. Chester Pidduck (Almaviva); Eugene Brancoveanu (Figaro); Nikki Einfield (Rosina); Igor Vieira (Bartolo); Dennis Rupp (Basilio); Adina Dorband (Berta)

I. Vieira E. Brancoveanu C. Pidduck N. Enflield D. Rupp A. Dorband J, Russell (N. Wilson Photo)

OPERA BUFFA HI JINX IN ROSSINI'S BARBER AT MENDO FESTIVAL

by Ken Bullock
Friday, July 17, 2015

During his July 17 lecture before the sole Mendocino Music Festival performance of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, stage director Eugene Brancoveanu spoke of Commedia Dell’Arte. Mr. Brancoveanu, who sang the baritone title role of Figaro, alluded to the stylized clowning that is sometimes performed in the huge festival tent, and cast his eyes upward, humorously, to the top of the tent.

Beside mentioning Commedia (the comedy of craft) where lying is to tell the truth, and masked characters unmask the self, Mr. Brancoveanu pointed to the revolution Rossini effected in opera with his new treatment of vocal ornamentation in Bel Canto. “When someone hears a Rossini opera today, they’ll say it’s standard repertoire. But in his time, he was avant-garde and very controversial.”

And in a most refreshing way the Festival production brought Opera Buffa back to popular musical theater, to the delight of a nearly full house. The cast of seven played and sang with an often half-careless brilliance that almost seemed planned, and was wholly in the spirit of the Opera and Mr. Brancoveanu’s staging.

In Figaro’s famous first aria the baritone’s vocal and stage presence showed clear enjoyment of the mischievousness of the impish rogue, barber and procurer. The singing was so clever that it proved a showstopper with the audience cheering above its own applause.

Soprano Nikki Einfeld acted physically like a bored and love-crazed girl, but sang Rosina’s Una voce pocco fa with a knowing and mature voice, exciting in high melisma that continued through both acts. As Count Almaviva, tenor Chester Pidduck excelled both in the ornamental word play and the sweetness of the love songs. He acted with deft humor when disguised as a drunken soldier seeking to get free housing, and as a conspiratorial music student trying to be near Rosina.

Bass singers Igor Vieira and Dennis Rupp were convincing as Doctor Bartolo, Rosina’s overly doting guardian, and as Basilio (Mr. Rupp), the clownish clerical music teacher in cahoots with Bartolo. Mr. Vieira sang and acted brilliantly as the sourpuss that knows everyone is out to get him but quickly switched to falsetto to cruelly mimic his tormentors.

Even the minor roles were well performed. Soprano Adina Dorband as the superannuated old maid governess, stirringly sang Il vecchio cerca moglie. As the officer, James Russell doesn’t speak or sing, but had the audience in laughter trying to arrest the ersatz music student. The latter proves he is a nobleman with a gesture, and Mr. Russell joined the scene with the full cast going frozen in a tableau vivant, and where Mr. Russell’s features slowly oscillate between rubber-faced mugging and wry expressions of fear, disorientation and loathing.

The big final trio of Almaviva, Figaro and Rosina was performed elegantly.

The Opera’s four scenes ran the gamut of comic and serious emotions, and the Festival Orchestra (conducted by Allan Pollack) buoyed up the singing and occasionally soared above the vocal lines.