Teatro Lirico d'Europa November 3, 2008
By Glen Creason
The Teatro Lirico d’Europa visited the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts over the weekend and gave local operaphiles a chance to luxuriate in some classic Italian performances of two nineteenth century short operas. “Cavalleria Rusticana” and “Pagliaccci” were the pair, sung in one and two acts that did not lack in drama or memorable arias. The Teatro is in its eighth year of bringing culture outside the big opera halls of Europe and the Cerritos faithful seemed hungry for the opportunity to hear these old favorites live. Teatro Lirico brought a twenty-member cast that was very good throughout the evening. It is a really international group with singers coming from all over the globe including Turkey, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria and Mexico. Of course, Opera is the high art form with the plots that seem straight out of a Mexican telenovela but when the focus is on the majestic singing you tend to accept the bloody conclusions to these twisted tales along with the rest of the merriment. Both operas feature tragedy brought on by infidelity and the wages of that sin paid in terrible destruction.
In “Cavalleria Rusticana” it is the straying Turiddu who leaves his loyal Santuzza for the charms of the restless and rather irresistible Lola. The object of these affections is unfaithful to the feckless husband Alfio and it turns out badly despite some rather grand singing and drinking of wine. Olga Chernisheva carries the piece in her role as Santuzza, singing the heart-wrenching “Voi lo sapete” and “Tu qui, Santuzza?” The smitten Turiddu refuses to be swayed and the powerful tenor Viorel Saplacan was outstanding in “Mama , quel vino” which is both a drinking song and farewell. Alfio played by the most active singer on the night, baritone Theodore Lambrinos was both sympathetic and deserving of admiration. However, it is opera and the conclusion does not turn out well for the womanizer who pays for his transgressions in blood.
The familiar “Pagliacci” was more on the sad lessons of the breaking of vows and ensuing breaking of hearts leading to the spilling of blood. Theodore Lambrinos was back, this time as the evil Tonio, the disfigured clown who when rebuffed by the beautiful Nedda exposes her affair with another to her husband Canio. Nedda, played here by Christina Molnar was perfect in the role and her singing of “Stridono Lassu” was as sweet as the birds she described on the wing. There is the terrible moment in the show when the cuckholded husband faces the truth that his wife is unfaithful and his agony pours out in the aria “Vesti La Giubba” sung by Gabriel Gonzalez on this night with a conviction and passion that brought tears to many in the audience. To flush out the lover of his Nedda, Canio puts on a comedy based on true life. In his clown makeup he tries to get her to reveal the name of Silvio who rushes to her side too late after the spurned husband has stabbed her. If nothing else, this evening was a great example of the value of marriage counseling in such situations.