Skagit Opera produces another winner
by John French
Opera, by its very nature, is hard. Not only do you have to be able to sing some of the most difficult repertoire a singer may ever encounter, you also have to be able to move like a human being. Stand and Bark is not an option anymore. You have to have a thoroughly supportive orchestra under you and (hopefully) settings that do not look like a 1960s soap opera.
In honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joe Green (a.k.a Giuseppe Verdi), the Skagit Opera meets many of those over-the-top goals with their production of Rigoletto at McIntyre Hall in Mt. Vernon. This opera has it all: drama, comedy, THE great drinking song and, of course, death while singing very, very high.
First off, the sets and costumes are both very colorful and well done. Especially the backdrops, which I really liked. They were also simple and versatile without that icky living room look. The lighting was especially effective, and the movement of the entire cast was very lifelike. That last remark may sound a little snarky, but you would be surprised how often in theatre that is hard to pull off.
As to the singing: Ryan MacPherson set the bar very high right from the opening aria He polished his chops with the now defunct New York City Opera Company and it shows Not to be out done, the Skagit Opera’s Korean Konnection of Yuseok Oh, as Rigoletto and Adam Kim as Marullo showed forth beautifully. As did Benjamin Harris (as Count Monterone & Sparafucile). I always love it when the bass gets to rock the house.
On the female side you cannot help but fall in love with Courtney Ruckman as Gilda. Her voice quality was superb and the phrasing was absolutely adorable. If I could find any fault it was in the duos where she just did not meet Oh’s power and was a bit buried. But her solos were magnificent. I was also attracted to the wonderful Serena Eduljee as Countess Ceprano.
As someone who has experience on both sides of the baton, I tend to pay close attention the orchestra, and they did not disappoint tonight. Maestro Bernard Kwriam had them very tight with the soloists as I have not heard before with Skagit Opera. There were some intonation issues (especially in the string department) which I find annoying, but there is no such thing as perfection in live theatre. My hat is also off to the compact, but totally efficient chorus under the tutelage of Glenda Wilson
There is also a surprise in a quick five-minute set change of the first act that has nothing to do with Rigoletto, but is great fun. You are just going to have to buy a ticket to find out what that is.
There is a tradition in theatre that the director gives notes to the cast after a rehearsal. So, dear readers I am going to give you my notes:
Get down to McIntyre Hall to see this show! It is worth every penny and then some. And the setting could not be more ideal.
Rigoletto plays October 11, 13, 18 and 20. Tickets are available at the McIntyre Hall box office by calling (360) 416-7727 or online.
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