Le Bell Canto by June LeBell

Maometto The Terrible

Posted August 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm

by June LeBell

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Sometimes there's a reason a work by a famous composer isn't performed too often. Yes, friends, now we know why we haven't seen or heard much about Rossini's "Maometto II." It is boring!

Not much could save this incomprehensible plot. Not Rossini's florid music - which sounds like early Verdi with fioratura. Neither the clever lighting by Duane Schuler nor Jon Morrell's black-and-white, movable set - which turned into a giant red tent resembling a Steinway on full-open-stick could make the story any more believable or interesting.

The cast - - all excellent singers and actors - - couldn't rescue this piece from oblivion and only the second act arias by Leah Crocetto as Anna, Patricia Bordon as Calbo and Luca Pisaroni as the great Maolmetto the Second, himself, roused me from my stupor during their brief forays into bel canto.

This is the kind of opera that bears performance only once in a lifetime and then should be tucked, neatly but unceremoniously, back on its shelf of oblivion.

Don't ask me to tell you the plot unless you're an insomniac looking for a sleeping potion.

Should Santa Fe have spent the money or the brilliant Philip Gossett gone to the trouble of editing it to its original unsplendor? Only if you feel Everest should be climbed simply because it's there.

But, since it was there, we need to give credit to those who worked so hard to introduce us to this rarity. Among them: conductor Frederic Chaslin and the excellent instrumentalists doing their time - - their long time - - in the pit. To the chorus and chorus master (Susanne Sheston) who tried their mightiest to be involved. To director David Alden who brought this static piece of clap-trap out of the depths as well as was humanly possible. And the incredible soloists who actually made something of their roles.

I feel like Mrs. Lincoln after her husband was shot. Other than that, June, how did you enjoy the opera?


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