‘MENOTTI REMIXED’, A WORTHY HOMAGE

by Daniel Fernandez El Nuevo Herald

Lauren Levy and Martin Shalita, in a scene from Menotti’s Goya

In February of this year, a few months before his 96th birthday, the Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti left us. His voluminous musical legacy has remained as a testament to his extraordinary creativity and energy, one that until the end has remained at the forefront of festivals such as the ones created in Spoleto and Charleston. Menotti is perhaps the most prolific opera composer of the twentieth century.From one of his first creations, Amelia Goes to the Ball (1937), success followed him with commissions for operas to be premiered on radio and television, something that now seems unlikely to us in these times where the media have failed to see the opera culture as something profitable.So it is a doubly meritorious and beautiful tribute that the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami presented on Thursday 1st in Menotti ReMixed, not only for recognizing the quality and timeliness of Menotti’s music — which should be more present in our culture — but as a reminder of his tireless work as a promoter of cultural and musical bridges between Europe and America.Under the musical direction of Alan Johnson and the theater direction of the spouses Kimberly Daniel and Rafael de Acha, the show was extremely vital, with a pace that did not wane at any time. A highlight was how the production showed the versatility and multiplicity of interests that the composer unfolds with the same security in dramas, comedies and even religiously themed works.

The selection included two Barber (1910-1981) operas to which Menotti contributed librettos: Vanessa (1958) and Hand of Bridge (1959), which was presented in its entirity. The sequence of arias and scenes started with the funny The Telephone (1947), which not only keeps up to date, but becomes even more caustic with use of cell phones.

After about two hours of extraordinary work on the part of teachers and students from UM, the night closed brilliantly with the final scene of The Consul (1950). A work that in these times, where so many want to flee tyrannies and totalitarian governments, retains its painful and sharp message to the democratic governments of the world of their human responsibility to the victims of those suffering from power.

Mandy Spivak was outstanding in the final aria, but she was not the only one who shone in the night’s selections. The duo of Nydia Noriega and Andrew York in L’ultimo selvaggio was also an exquisite gift. The same can be said of the aria of Sardula in the same opera sung by Juanita Marchand and of the Duchess of Alba Lauren Levy, in duet with Mr. Martin Shalita, in a scene from Goya.

The final scene of the science fiction comedy Help, Help, the Globolinks! was extremely funny. In fact all the singers deserve to be mentioned, even if I can not.

Finally, the costumes of Estela Vrancovich and lighting of Pedro A. Ramirez de Estenoz should be recognized.

Menotti ReMixed showed that a few resources can make a spectacle worthy and that the public — which nearly filled the hall knows how to appreciate the value of the more modern operas.

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