Battiness and party hijinks in Pomona with Repertory Opera’s ‘Die Fledermaus’

Community report by Steve Moritsugu

On Wednesday evening, November 4th, Repertory Opera Company presented Die Fledermaus, which is the first opera of their twelfth season. Company founder and stage director LizBeth Lucca is known for productions which feature wonderful voices, well rehearsed stage action with energy and precision, fidelity to the text and the style of the composer, and colorful costumes and sets that put the audience in the middle of the action. This production was all that and captured the gaiety and humor of the festivities. Founding music director Brian Farrell led from the piano, and kept the music as crisp and flowing as champagne, rising occasionally from his bench only as needed to guide a big moment.

The heart and soul of the story was Coril Prochnow as Rosalinda, playing the dutiful wife who almost gives in to a past lover, seethes in anger at her husband’s infidelity, and participates in an elaborate deception by appearing as a foreign countess with an effortless Hungarian accent. Coril’s voice is always beautiful and pure, and soars over the ensemble in the big moments. Coril is especially moving in the long, yearning phrases of the Czardas.

Playing her husband, Eisenstein, was Juventino Zapata, whose voice has warmth and projection. (I remember a different opera with a different company where his voice was the only one I could hear clearly.) In Juventino’s face, you can see all of Eisenstein’s weaknesses, and yet you know why his friends and wife stay with him.

Playing her past lover, Alfredo, was tall, blond, handsome Christopher Anderson. We watched Coril melt into his arms, and hear his strong tenor sing serenades of all the popular tenor arias and then some.

I esp enjoyed Nandani Sinha  (“Nani” ) as Count Orlofsky, with a ringing contralto and stratospheric grace notes. She has a wonderful Russian accent, and I could not help but smile every time she commanded her guests to “drrrrrink”.

Amanda McAllister won my heart in a previous ROC production as Musetta in La Boheme, where her great singing and warmth showed she was worth all the trouble she caused Marcello. In this production, she sings Adele’s two showstopping arias, and with a fuller, warmer voice than most in this role.

ROC principal baritone Raul Matas played Dr. Falke with a sly smile as he engineered a huge, elaborate deception on Eisenstein. For those of you familiar with this opera, consider the letter that Adele received from her sister Ida — the one that Ida never sent. Raul’s great singing moment is the invocation to love that leads to the big ensemble and the famous Fledermaus waltz.

Frank, the prison warden, was sung by tenor Shawn Taylor, in fine voice, providing humor in his French language encounter with Eisenstein, and in the drunken aftermath of all the champagne, and showing an eye for the stage-struck Adele. Joining Shawn in conveying the hung-over mood was ROC’s Erle Saunders. He is normally backstage, making sure the production runs smoothly, and it was wonderful to see him onstage.

Making his auspicious debut with this company was tenor Joshua Johnson as Dr Blind, the ineffectual lawyer. The chorus, especially the soprano section, sounded great.

There will be two more Saturday performances at 2 PM on November 7th and 14th. Most roles are double cast.

Click here to visit ROC’s website

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Mr. Moritsugu is both an active Lister and a regular performer with this company — this report was submitted as an informal submission for the blog.  We do occasionally accept such submissions, so we can keep you up-to-date on what’s going on around town.  (After all, we can’t be everyone at once!)  Thanks, Steve, for filling us in.

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