Florentine Opera put on a terrific Susannah by Carlisle Floyd over the weekend. I have great things to say for the singers, orchestra, and conductor.
Certainly this opera delivers the potent emotional impact by way of the principal singers. Betty Waynne Allison was Susannah. She has a powerful voice that carried cleanly throughout the theater. There was certainly an emotional identification with her by members of the audience where I was sitting as she sang and acted this great soprano role.
Jonathan Boyd made a strong case for Sam as a major character in the opera. Boyd’s biography lists Ishmael in Moby Dick (San Diego) and Werther (Teatro Colon/Buenos Aires.) He sang beautifully as Susannah’s brother yesterday. I certainly would want to hear much of him in his other roles. And I wished for more for the character of Sam to sing.
Wayne Tigges is familiar to Chicago Lyric audiences. He made the Reverend Olin Blitch a powerful, humanly flawed hypocrite. His prayer meeting exhortation almost made me go forward to the altar on the stage. The seduction of Susannah was harrowing. The role of Olin Blitch is his own. I treasure Samuel Ramey’s portrait of Blitch, but Tigges made this singing and acting part a continuation to the new generation of singers.
Rodell Rosel is also familiar to those of us who trek northward to Milwaukee for opera. He has appeared frequently at Lyric Chicago. The role of Little Bat was sung with intensity and with every word clearly pronounced. Rosel will take on the title role in Albert Herring next year with the Florentine. It is a performance I’m looking forward to.
I have heard lots of conductors but I believe this is the first time I have seen/heard Joseph Mechavich in the pit. The music was propelled all afternoon. Everything was crisp and clean. The long line of phrasing was never in danger of veering off in some other direction to my ears. What an intense and surging score Carlisle Floyd wrote! The pit band of members of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra was a committed
part of the production.
Bravo to Florentine. It was worth the $4.49 per gallon gasoline price! Now, citizens of Wisconsin…how about more Amtrak service between Chicago and Milwaukee? After all, there were 800,000+ patrons on the Hiawatha runs last year. We could use more frequent departures.
Richard is a Chicago native and a Florentine Opera subscriber.