A night at the opera. Not your typical college outing, but definitely worth the cultural experience that the Ithaca College Department of Theatre Arts and the School of Music provides through their two one-act operas by Giacomo Puccini, “Suor Angelica” and “Gianni Schicchi.”
“Sour Angelica” tells the story of the dark past of Sister Angelica in 17th century Sienna. This first opera was musically incredible. The all female cast truly made heavenly melodies. Unfortunately, most of the cast’s acting fell short in comparison. My biggest problem with the first 20 minutes of this opera was the overcrowding of the nuns on stage. I found it very distracting. The one actress who truly stood out as being both theatrically and musically brilliant was second year graduate M.M. vocal performance major Wenhui Xu, who played Suor Angelica. Her performance and range of emotion both shown in her voice and through her body language was just beautiful.
“Gianni Schicci” is a nonsensical story based on the death of an extremely wealthy man and the content of his will. This opera was almost cartoonish in its acting, very over the top and entertaining. Senior vocal performance and music education major Ryan Zettlemoyer had me laughing out loud as he attempted to hit people with his cane repeatedly. Yet, musically this opera was not as up to par in comparison to the first act. An exception is the stellar performance given by second year graduate M.M. vocal performance major Zohaniris Torres Rosado. She was also in the first opera, but I thought her second appearance was a much stronger accomplishment both musically and theatrically. Senior musical theatre major Megan Ort had the strongest vocal performance in Schicchi, but her acting was not up to her usual high standards.
Visually, the sets were beautiful and elaborate, but this was also the cause of a 25-minute intermission. Costumes, lights and an awesome fog special effect all left the audience in awe. The pit played extremely well, although at times they did get a little too into the music, overpowering the singers—especially in Schicci.
I consider myself a typical college student who is not well versed in the world of opera. Even so, I really did enjoy the performances from the cast and crew of the two Puccini operas and encourage those interested in art, music and a new experience to enter a world of music, sin, sadness and laughter all wrapped up into one convenient little Ithaca College opera package.
Note: The performance reviewed was a preview showing of the production.
Performances will be held at 8 p.m. on Feb. 20, 22, 26, 28 and March 2. A 2 p.m. matinee is also offered on Feb. 24. Ticket prices range from $5.50 to $11.