Members of the opera at Mannes The New School for Music are once again going rogue. Often noted for performing rare and unconventional operas (such as last spring’s “Rape of Lucretia” and the previous fall’s “Igor Meets Gioachino”), the company stays true to form with a presentation of Il Viaggio a Reims, on Thursday, December 19 at Hunter College. Featuring The Mannes Opera with members of The Mannes Orchestra, the production is conducted by Artistic Director Joseph Colaneri and stage directed by Laura Alley.
First performed in 1825, Il Viaggio a Reims, has been called Rossini’s “lost masterpiece,” the original manuscript of which was only recovered in full in the 1980’s. Rossini composed the opera as an occasional work to mark the ascendency of King Charles X to the French throne, and the piece concerns itself directly with that event, telling the story of noblemen and women traveling to witness the coronation. The opera has the notable distinction of offering parts for 14 soloists.
“Viaggio is a terrific match for Mannes. We have so many wonderful singers, so with Rossini writing for 14 soloists, Colaneri made a wonderful choice allowing us to show off the depth of our opera and voice programs,” said Richard Kessler, Dean of Mannes College.
The Mannes Opera production of Il Viaggio a Reims is conceived, supervised, and conducted by Artistic Director, Joseph Colaneri. Along with his position at Mannes, Mr. Colaneri serves concurrently as Artistic Director of the West Australian Opera, and Music Director of the Glimmerglass Festival. Mr. Colaneri recently completed 15 seasons on the conducting roster of the Metropolitan Opera. Under his leadership, The Mannes Opera has been praised by the New York Times for “a stellar reputation for the quality of its presentations and the excellence of its student singers.”
“Performing Rossini is a tremendously beneficial study for our young singers and instrumentalists,” said Colaneri. “They gain immeasurably from a technical standpoint as this music requires careful consideration of every note, ensuring that each sound produced has the maximum beauty, character and shape. That said, the sheer verve and brilliance of Rossini’s vocal and instrumental writing make this opera a joy to perform and the conquering of the technical demands is well worth the effort. Our singers and instrumentalists become better musicians through their encounter with this great master’s music.”
This opera rarity will have two performances on Thursday, December 19, at 1:30 p.m. (semi-staged), and 7:30 p.m. (fully staged) at The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, 68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. Tickets are $25, general public; and $10, students/seniors, available at the Kaye box office: 212.772.4448.