Opera house ends season on the right note

raduate students James Rodriguez and Chris Trapani played the leasing roles .  |  Courtesy of Moores school of music

raduate students James Rodriguez and Chris Trapani played the leasing roles . | Courtesy of Moores school of music

The Moores Opera Center proved they can take on anything with their first-time rendition of the classic Italian opera “Rigoletto.”

An absorbing and fast-moving opera, the story begins when the shameless Duke of Mantua fools around with the wrong girl, whose father then puts a curse on the Duke and his snide court jester, Rigoletto. Rigoletto’s curse is realized when the Duke falls in love with his sheltered daughter, Gilda. But when Rigoletto reveals the Duke for the deceitful womanizer he truly is, murderous plots spiral out of control.

Written by Giuseppe Verdi, and directed and produced by Moores Opera House director Buck Ross with music direction by conductor and assistant professor Brett Mitchell, the opera opened Friday night to a large attendance at the Moores Opera House.

Accompanied by an exceptional orchestra, graduate students James Rodriguez and Ashly Neumann carried the show with impeccable vocals and engaging character developments.

Rodriguez’s outstanding solos and impassioned commitment to his character transformed the conniving entertainer to a concerned father. His versatility as an actor and stamina as a singer left the opera house in shock and awe.

An equally powerful counterpart, Neumann gave a mesmerizing performance as the naïve and lovestruck Gilda.

From curious and in love to a woman betrayed, Neumann breaks our hearts and leaves us wanting more. Her voice a powerhouse in contrast to her sweet and helpless character, and the audience went wild after each of her solos.

Together, the two leads manifested a perfect father-daughter dynamic and the drama of a classic Italian opera.

In addition to the extraordinary performances, the production itself was put together with stunning visual effects and an elaborate set design.

The video effects gave the show fantastic veracity, projecting artwork found in the real Duke of Mantua’s Palazzo Te by Italian Renaissance artist Giulio Romano in Act II.

The production also prepared a two-story tavern set piece for Act III, further demonstrating a knack for showmanship.

With a music staff in high demand, this was also a farewell performance for many long-time members, including conductor Stephen W. Jones, pianist Katherine Ciscon, and music director Mitchell.

An enjoyable and thoroughly impressive production, the Moores Opera Center ends the season on a high note.

Announcements for next season will be made in May.

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