Notes and Editorial Reviews
The Hotel Casablanca
John Nardolillo, cond; Darla Diltz (
); Brandy Laura Hawkins (
); David Baker (
); Eric Brown (
); Univ of Kentucky Op Theatre
ALBANY TROY 1005 (78:22
Text and Translation)
31:3, Colin Clarke and Walter Simmons separately reviewed Thomas Pasatieri’s opera
(Albany TROY 965), and both reviews are extremely favorable. Having long been an admirer of Pasatieri, I was delighted to receive this assignment from
, and to listen to it prior to reading those two reviews. Thus I know that my favorable reaction was not influenced by Messrs. Clarke and Simmons, but was generated by the opera itself.
The Hotel Casablanca
is based on Feydeau’s
A Flea in Her Ear
, but Pasatieri (who wrote his own libretto) has moved the setting to the Texas Double T Ranch in 1948. It is a wonderful farce with mistaken identities and misplaced suspicions between spouses. The best farces of this nature balance the uproarious and ridiculous with the poignant and the tender, and Pasatieri has done that with both his libretto and his music.
This is not a score designed to please those who believe that music written today must be largely cerebral, and must certainly avoid tonality. Fortunately, it is more acceptable in today’s musical establishment to write accessible, even tuneful music, than it was 25 years ago. This score is a beauty—with melodies that actually stay in the memory after they have been sung! At times the writing recalls the Strauss of
. That should not be taken to mean that Pasatieri is a plagiarist, for he is not, but it is meant to make a connection for the reader who may not be familiar with Pasatieri’s idiom. There is one wonderful moment, by the way, when the character of Raul sings: “My beautiful Lucy, this is our final scene. Are we both in an opera now, my bride? Am I Otello to your Desdemona? Shall I kiss you before I kill you?” At this point, music and text quote the “Un bacio” motif from Verdi’s
. It is a particularly great moment because Raul then kisses the head of the person he thinks is his cheating wife, but in fact it is a hired hand Tobias.
There are some beautiful arias and ensembles here, and the performance is excellent. All of the singers inhabit their roles fully, and sing beautifully as well. It is wonderfully encouraging that this production is from a university’s opera program, and that their student orchestra plays at such a high level as well. Everything about the performance is satisfying and ingratiating. The diction is clear enough (thanks to a clear and well-balanced recording) that one can really follow the action without the text, but Albany has supplied one just in case. All in all, this is recommended with enthusiasm.
FANFARE: Henry Fogel
Works on This Recording
Hotel Casablanca by Thomas Pasatieri
Christopher Probus (Tenor),
Brandy Laura Hawkins (Soprano),
Luther H. III Lewis (Baritone),
Hannah Smith (Soprano),
Darla Diltz (Soprano),
David Baker (Baritone),
Eric Brown (Tenor),
Christopher Baker (Tenor),
Natalie Krupansky (Soprano)
University of Kentucky Opera Theatre
Period: 20th Century
Date of Recording: 2007
Length: 78 Minutes 24 Secs.
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