Guest conductor Luçik Aprahämian
Stage director Erin Neff
The original setting is Bologna in the 1700s. Geronimo is a cranky older man with two daughters, Carolina and Elisetta. He also has a hearing problem and constantly misunderstands everything he’s told. Carolina has recently married Geronimo’s clerk, Paolino, without telling anyone because Geronimo would never have consented. To deal with Geronimo, Paolino has arranged a match between Elisetta and a wealthy nobleman, Count Robinson. Geronimo has always envied the nobility so the hope is that Elisetta’s engagement will soften the blow of Carolina’s marriage to Paolino. At first, the plan seems like it might actually work, but then Aunt Fidalma, Geronimo’s widowed sister, confesses that she has fallen in love with Paolino!
Shawnette Sulker, Carolina; Tonia D’Amelia, Elisetta; Sylvie Jensen, Fidalma; Michael Desnoyers, Paolino; Bojan Knezevic, Geronimo; and Ben Brady, Count Robinson.
We caught up with stage director Erin Neff to find out what sort of hilarity she’s plotting this time. Sure enough, her first words were “This opera will be very, very funny! Set in the 1950s, think sketch comedy meets opera. It’s a farce.”
Asked what drives her choice of setting, Erin explained that to some extent a modern setting is a practicality in smaller companies, where an inadequate attempt at a period setting can end up looking amateurish. Also, she often finds that a more current setting helps bring the story to life, making it more relatable. We understand car salesman; a land baron, maybe not so much.
As for the music, Erin says “If you love Mozart you’ll love Cimarosa.” According to one critic, “Il Matrimonio Segreto has the exciting challenges of Rossini-like vocal lines, Italian recitative, and comedic acting. In fact, it lives as a musical bridge between Mozart and Rossini.”
Somehow in comedic operas from this era the glorious effervescent music seems to somehow manage to amplify the humor; making for a much-needed evening of vigorous laughter.