Review

RIPO gives a fun night at the opera

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I don’t remember having so much fun at the opera as I did Saturday night at the R.I. Philharmonic’s tribute to Italian composers Rossini, Puccini, Mascagni and Respighi.

Technically, it wasn’t all opera on the program. Guest conductor Marie Jacquot opened with a rousing rendition of the William Tell Overture and closed with Respighi’s Roman Festivals, a piece that used every instrument imaginable and, at one point, three trumpets playing from the balcony.

Educated in Paris, with further studies in Vienna, Jacquot had complete control of the huge orchestra, not only in the Rousing Rossini and Respighi but also in the operatic pieces.

Tenor Jonathan Burton was magnificent with his well-controlled voice that filled the Vets Auditorium. He also was a real crowd pleaser when he put his arias in context with humorous explanations. Soprano Julia Radosz was equal to the task, especially when they joined each other for Puccini’s “Vogliatemi bene.” At first, I thought the orchestra was going to overpower their voices, but they both displayed superior control of their volume in one magnificent duet.

The Philharmonic season ends on Saturday, May 4 at 8 p.m. at Vets with guest conductor Alexander Mickelthwate leading the orchestra in Shostakovich’s Symphony No, 9, Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No.1 (with guest violinist Benjamin Beilman, and Tchaikovsky’s glorious “1812 Overture”). Call 248-7000 for tickets. There is a Rush Hour performance the night before at 6:30 p.m. featuring Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky.

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