by Michael Caruso
The Delaware Valley Opera Company (DVOC) will open its 2013 season of summer opera productions with Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” June 15 and 19 at 8 p.m. The music director for the mounting will be Tim Ribchester, with Connie Koppe of Germantown providing stage direction. Koppe has made a career singing and teaching opera, theater and cabaret for more than 30 years.
She graduated with a master’s in music and opera performance from the Boyer College of Music in Temple in 1977, and she studied music education as an undergraduate at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (1973 graduate). Born in Lawrence, Kansas, but raised in Conshohocken, Koppe has also been a stage director and costume designer. At present, she performs French cabaret music with her band Enchante, which has performed at the Philly Fringe Festival.
Ribchester, fresh from a production of Bizet’s “Carmen” in Baltimore, said of Mozart’s acclaimed comedy, ‘“Figaro’ is, of course, a watershed opera both for Mozart and for the history of music. It is telling that Mozart wrote to his father a few months before composing ‘Figaro’ that he considered the Quintet for Piano & Winds his best composition to date. Having played the piece a few times, I feel strongly that the kind of democratic ensemble writing he perfected in the quintet served as a wonderful study for the unprecedented complexity of the ensemble in ‘Figaro.’ It is this complexity that allows Mozart to move beyond a two-dimensional emotional universe.”
Ribchester explained that he is extremely excited to be conducting a professional orchestra for these performances. In the past, DVOC’s productions have been accompanied only at the piano. Funding for the orchestra was made possible through a collaborative effort with Kickstarter.
“The orchestration for ‘Figaro’ is ideal for a small chamber orchestra,” Ribchester said. “It’s much more about color and agility than sheer dramatic power of the kind necessary for ‘Don Giovanni’ or ‘Magic Flute.’ The score contains so many details, not least the use of the clarinets to create the beguiling sounds accompanying the Countess’ music as well as that written for Cherubino.”
Stage director Koppe explained, “Ever since my junior year in college, when I portrayed Susanna in ‘Figaro,’ I have been in love with this opera. We performed the Edward Dent English translation, which is very ‘British’ in its humor, with as little recitative as possible. The DVOC production will be in the original Italian with English supertitles and only the standard cuts.”
DVOC will present its annual James V. Wiest Memorial Preview Concert Sunday, June 2, 3 p.m., at Stage One, 101 Plush Mill Road in Wallingford, Delaware County. “The Marriage of Figaro” will be presented at Stage One June 15 and 19 at 8 p.m. Visit dvopera.org for ticket information and directions via Germantown Pike and the Blue Route.
The Mendelssohn Club, Greater Philadelphia’s premier symphonic chorus, joined forces with Symphony in C for a performance of Franz Joseph Haydn’s oratorio, “The Creation,” Sunday, May 19, in the Episcopal Cathedral Church of the Savior in West Philadelphia. Conducted by the symphony’s music director, Rossen Milanov, the concert was one of the highpoints of the 2012-13 season and drew an audience that packed the church.
Divided into three parts and taking nearly two hours to perform, “The Creation” is one of Haydn’s finest large works. Joining “The Seasons” and the many superb late settings of the Latin Mass the composer wrote during his years in Vienna, “The Creation” is a masterful telling of the story of creation as found in the Book of Genesis. The libretto employs three of the four archangels to recount God’s creation of the world, culminating with Adam and Eve.
Haydn responded with some of the most imaginative and powerful music he ever composed. The orchestral writing is a splendid balance between classical developmental procedures and romantic tone-painting.
Sunday afternoon’s performance was noteworthy on all counts. The preparation of the Mendelssohn Club by longtime music director Alan Harler was flawless. The choir sang with power and precision. Soprano Chloe Moore (a student at the Academy of Vocal Arts) and tenor Roy Hage & baritone Andrew Bogard (both students at the Curtis Institute of Music) all sang beautifully and meaningfully. Symphony in C gave a colorfully dramatic reading of the orchestral part, and Rossen Milanov oversaw the entire rendition with firmness and sensitivity.