OONY Performs Cilèa’s L’Arlesiana

OONY Music
Director Eve Queler’s personal magnetism (and no doubt hard work) attracts a rich array of
talented operatic voices, both of the internationally known and more fledging variety, in order to
perform rarely performed gems that have fallen out of—or have never made into—the opera

Most recently, OONY presented Francesco Cilèa’s L’Arlesiana, a lyric drama in three acts, on
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 in Carnegie Hall. Cilèa’s opera, which was premiered in 1897 by
Teatro Lirico in Milan, is based on the same Daudet play for which Bizet wrote incidental music
that is still popular. The libretto for L’Arlesiana was created for Cilèa by Leopoldo Marenco.

The opera portrays the story of Federico, a handsome young man who is smitten with a woman
from the nearby town of Arles. The first act reveals that the woman’s character is suspect, and
that her love for Federico is quite likely feigned as she has compromised her purity with the
stableman Metifio. Ultimately, despite the interventions of his mother, the local girl Vivetta, and
the advice of the wise shepherd Baldasarre, Federico is plunged into a jealous frenzy over the
Arlesian and takes his own at the end of the tale.

Most of the cast performed well, though perhaps not with all the musicality and flair that is
expected from OONY. Making her debut with OONY in L’Arlesiana , Marianne Cornetti
performed convincingly in the role of Rosa Mamai, Federico’s doting mother. Ihn-Kyu Lee made
brief appearances as Federico’s rival—an ill-mannered stableman also obsessed with the woman
from Arles, who never makes an appearance nor is named beyond “L’Arlesiana.” Weston Hurt
performed the role of Baldasarre with charm and wooed the audience with his warm voice, which
befit the role of the wise, older shepherd. Collette Boudreaux played the
L’innocenza—Federico’s simpleton younger brother.

This third performance of the season was the last opera-in-concert of the 2007 – 2008 series;
however, those who attended will be glad to know that Latonia Moore, who made her OONY
debut as Vivetta in L’Arlesiana, will also be showcased in a recital on May 3, 2007 with OONY
as the 2007 Vidda Award recipient. The Moore graduated from the Academy of Vocal Arts in
Philadelphia, was acclaimed as Micaëla in the New York City Opera production of Carmen
earlier this season. Moore’s performance in L’Arlesiana indicates that big things will happen for
this young soprano who has many debut performances in the U.S. and in Europe coming up in
the next season.

The most generous portion of the applause for the evening went to the young tenor, Giuseppe
Filianoti as the lovelorn Federico. Filianoti made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2005 as Edgar
in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, but L’Arlesiana was his only appearance in the U.S. this
season. The tenor aria “Lamento di Federico” is featured in many tenors’ repertoires, although
the rest of the opera is rarely performed. Filianoti’s interpretation of this aria that helped sparked
Caruso’s career more than a century ago caused the house to erupt into applause so enthusiastic
that Filianoti repeated the aria. A gentleman near me remarked somewhat incredulously, “It was
even better the second time!”—a sentiment with which I fully agree.

Megan Jenkins

image_description=Francesco Cilèa
product_title=Francesco Cilèa: L’Arlesiana
Opera Orchestra of New York, Carnegie Hall, 21 February 2007