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The double bill at Kirkland House is a perfect escape for anyone tired of studying. And who isn't? The project was cooked up by seniors to fill up their free springtime, and under the leadership of Paul Sperry they have chosen two delightful operas.
The opener is The Maid as Mistress (La Serva Padrona) by Pergolesi. Originally written for performance between the acts of a grand opera, The Maid has survived as a minor masterpiece while the serious works of the period have been forgotten.
Judging from the dress rehearsal the production is superb. The opera has only two singing characters, the master of a house and his young maid. As the master, a better choice than Jonathan Levy would be difficult to imagine. His big voice masters the part's large range, and his expressions are marvellously comic without being overdone. As the maid, Sara-Jane Smith looks and sings very prettily, indeed. Their two duets are among the finest comic music of all time. This is a performance that shouldn't be missed.
Where The Maid is funny, The Conspirators is simply light-hearted. The plot is a 19th century version of the Lysistrata theme, glued together with pleasant music by Schubert. In the large cast, Timothy Cogan and Leonard Herzog are the most amusing. Jay Shuchter's stage direction makes effective use of military absurdities, and Michael Biddle has constructed an attractive set. The operas are under the fine musical supervision of Paul Sperry, who has been fortunate in getting Richard Friedberg as the accompanist. Too much studying is bad for the health.
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