Spoleto presents a modern day premiere of this Baroque opera Saturday night, May 23, and I really enjoyed my sneak peek yesterday.
I grew up in Charleston - leaving as a teen to join the Marines - but this was my first time sitting in a box in the balcony of the Dock Street Theatre and, quite frankly, the seats up there are much more comfortable than those below.
The opera, written about 18 years before settlers landed here to create the Holy City, was only performed twice.
First in Venice, and then Naples, in 1652. It was political, contemporary, and, as opera director Stefano Vizioli says, full of revenge, guilt, and lusty heat.
“And it’ll be even hotter under my hand,” added the Neapolitan.
Nigel Redden, Director of the Arts Festival, welcomed a small audience of mainly writers and photographers who have greater freedom to capture images during the afternoon last dress rehearsal.
Unfortunately, he said, there was a technical glitz so there would not be an English translation streaming along.
My Italian, she's not too good, so I concentrated on taking pictures and trying to guess who was who.
I figured the handsome tenor had to be the General. Only saw one lady wearing a crown so I'm pretty sure that's Veremonda, the lady in the title, the Spanish Queen, who gathers together an army of Amazons.
Set in Gibraltar, the plot parallels the conquering of Granada—including Gibraltar—by King Ferdinand II (King Alfonso) and Queen Isabella the Catholic (Veremonda) in 1492.
With a bellicose zeal pitted against her husband's indifference, Veremonda sets out to end the war against the Moorish army by forming her own female Amazonian one to carry out the siege.
Being staged for the first time in more than 350 years, it explores the concept of women in power and leadership roles, highly relevant to the current political conversation.
I had no idea what the plot was and there were no prompts to help me figure it out.
Later I read that audiences will enjoy passion, comedy, raunchiness. melancholy, regality, betrayal, defeat and victory. Yikes!
I saw some funny bits by several actors but mainly had my camera ready to capture visual dramatic or frozen moments that popped up on the stage.
The Amazon soldiers formed a nice chorus line and moved with dance precision even if I had no idea what was providing the necessary suspense and expectations.
"It is my responsibility to bring opera to the people so they can find some personal connection and discovery through it," Director Vizioli said.
And I am sure there were.
A comment was made that without the streaming English libretto, one would have to experience it the way it was done three and a half centuries ago.
Speak - or at least understand - Italian.
(Click on the pictures for more detail.)
This was not "A Night At The Opera."
More of an afternoon delight following a hearty lunch around the corner at Hyman's Seafood.
Hey, there were two of us. I'm watching my diet. LOL.
There is some healthy stuff on that overflowing table.
Collards, for example. Greens are good for you.
As are shrimp & grits.