By Nino Pantano
For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Regina Opera, now celebrating its 44th season, has once again proven itself to be one of the finest opera companies in New York. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), in collaboration with his great librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749-1838), wrote The Marriage of Figaro (1786), and it is considered one of opera’s finest comedies. In the 1930s and ’40s, the great basso Ezio Pinza reigned as Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera.
On Nov. 24th, we attended this fine performance with 25 friends at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) on 59th Street and Sixth Avenue in Sunset Park.
The 33-piece orchestra was conducted masterfully by Maestro Scott Jackson Wiley, who brought the many joys of this incredible score with its minuets and marches to the 200 audience members, making it a personal gift to take home for the holidays.
Linda Lehr, stage director, assured us of a well-coordinated and richly nuanced performance on stage, and brought back to life all these wonderful characters that will continue to live in memory.
Figaro, a valet, was sung by Georgios Papadimitriou, who proved to be an attractive and capable protagonist with a firm steady bass. His nicely sung "Non piu andrai" describes the glories of war to Cherubino, a page, who has just been drafted. Other arias for Figaro included "Se vuol ballare" the "din din, don don" duet and the quicksilver “Aprite un pò quegli occhi,” all of which were sung with dexterity and elan.
Susanna, the maid, was in the capable hands of Jenny Ribeiro, whose saucy personality and spicy soprano gave us many humorous and beguiling moments. Her aria in the final act "Deh vieni, non tardar" was sung enchantingly with a cadenza burst at the finale that was exceptional.
Julian Whitley was a fine Count Almaviva, with just the right amount of arrogance and humility required for this stellar role. Whitley’s baritone soared in his seething aria, where he is fed up with women and their scheming ways. His "Perdoname" at the end rips away the layers of deceit and reveals a penitent soul.
Countess Almaviva was in the persona of Christina Rohm, whose sumptuous soprano has gained her many admirers. Her singing of "Dove sono,” her remorse aria, was sheer perfection.
Danielle Horta's mezzo made for a wonderful Cherubino and her-his singing of "Voi che sapete" in this "trouser" role was like a precious music box.
John Schenkel was sheer perfection as Dr. Bartolo his baritone buffo and comedic expressions made for much laughter and delight.
Christa Hylton’s soprano made for a notable Marcellina, Bartolo’s housekeeper. Her change from bridal contender to mother of Figaro was hilarious.
Alejandro Salvia was a comedic treat as music master Don Basilio. His outlandish and effete attire and expressive tenor made for much merriment.
Gene Howard as Antonio the perplexed gardener sang in a robust baritone and made the most of this comprimario part. Nicole Leone was a clear-voiced Barbarina (Antonio’s daughter), and her lost pin aria was brief but haunting. The versatile Brian Ribeiro doubled as Don Curzio, a lawyer. The tuneful and sweet duet sung by Shannon Alexander and Heather Antonissen was evocative of the soprano and mezzo duet in “Lakme.”
The ensemble singers were top-notch and the children were adorable, showering the stage with flower petals and their sweet smiles. The costumes by Julia Cornely were colorful and eye catching.The supertitles by Linda Cantoni explained the plot with precision.