Opera : Tipping the scales at Capawock
The Capawock Theatre's popular Sunday afternoon opera series returns this weekend with Gioachino Rossini's "Barber of Seville." Entering its third season, the series will feature high-definition video of live performances filmed throughout the year at some of Europe's top classical festivals. Filmed at Teatro La Fenice (Phoenix Theatre) in Venice, "The Barber of Seville" screens Sunday, Oct. 12, at 2 pm.
This year's series will include ballet performances from some of the world's premier companies, such as Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet. "We're expanding the opera series to include some ballet because there are a lot of dancers here on Martha's Vineyard," said Buzzy Hall, long-time Island realtor, who, with his sons, has operated the Capawock for years.
Early in his life Mr. Hall trained as an opera singer. "I'm sort of out the loop now. I act like I know everything, but really I don't," admitted Mr. Hall, laughing.
When asked what prompted the series three years ago, Mr. Hall said, "I just have a love for opera and I want people to enjoy what I enjoy. I'm trying to see if we can get the kinds of performances at the theatre that you just can't see anymore."
One of the 19th-century Italian composer's most popular operas, "The Barber of Seville" tells the story of how the title character, Figaro, acts as a go-between for romance. Count Almaviva has fallen in love with Rosina, the beautiful ward of Doctor Bartolo, but because he'd prefer to woo her with charm rather than money and prestige, he disguises himself.
Comic mishaps and obstacles to the romance - foremost Doctor Bartolo's desire to marry Rosina - keep the characters and the audience guessing. With help from the buffoonish Figaro, who happens to serve as the Doctor's barber, true love wins out in the end.
The cast for the Venice production includes baritone Roberto Frontali as Figaro, mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham as Rosina, and tenor Francesco Meli as Count Almaviva. Antonino Fogliani conducts.
On the following Sunday, Oct. 19, the Capawock will host a HD videotaped performance by the Bolshoi Ballet of Shostakovich's "The Bolt." This satire of factory workers and Soviet village life was banned after its 1931 dress rehearsal and was not performed again until 2005. "They had one performance and then the Soviets banned it because they didn't like it," said Mr. Hall. The choreographer is Alexsei Ratmansky.
Photos courtesy of emergingpictures.com
Opera returns on October 26 with Bellini's famous Bel Canto work, "Norma." Performed by the Teatro Comunale of Bologna, Italy, "Norma" narrates the tragedy of a Druid leader revolting against the Romans. Betrayed by her Roman consort, she threatens to kill their children, then commits suicide, inspiring him to do the same.
Internationally acclaimed Daniela Dessi plays Norma, considered one of the most difficult of roles for a soprano. Evelino Pido conducts, and Federico Tiezzo directs.
New this season are operas from Austria's Salzburg Festival, beginning with Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette" on November 9. The La Scala Corps de Ballet will dance "Mediterranea" in an ensemble of music by Mozart, Ligeti, and Palestrina on November 16.
From the Salzburg Festival comes Verdi's "Otello" on November 23 and Mozart's "Don Giovanni" on December 7 with Christopher Maltman in the title role. The Bolshoi Ballet, featuring Svetlana Zhakarova and Sergei Filin, will dance Cesare Pugni's "Pharoah's Daughter" on December 14.
On December 21 and 28, four special holiday performances of Humperdinck's "Hansel und Gretel" are scheduled for 1:30 and 4:30 pm. Conducted by Kazushi Ono, the German opera comes from the 2008 Glyndebourne Festival in East Sussex, England.
Said Mr. Hall, "These screenings are something different, something unique. Audience members pay a premium price, but on the way out of the theatre they're thanking me. They are happy to pay a premium price for something that's special."
Except for the holiday performances, all events in the Capawock's Opera and Dance Series will begin at 2 pm. Tickets cost $20, and $18 for seniors and students with an ID, or $80 for a five-event pass. They are available at the Capawock Theatre, Vineyard Haven. For scheduling call 508-627-6689, or visit the box office for a complete schedule of screenings through December.
Brooks Robards writes on art, film, books, and theater for The Martha's Vineyard Times.