The ON SITE OPERA Presents Puccini’s Il Tabarro

Eric McKeever as Michele in Il Tabarro by the On Site Opera. Photo by Bowie Dunwoody
Eric McKeever as Michele in Il Tabarro by the On Site Opera. Photo by Bowie Dunwoody
Rating
4.8/5

This was an evening when On Site Opera presents Puccini’s Il Tabarro, the first of the composer’s collection of three one-act operas entitled Il Trittico. Set in Paris in 1910 on a barge docked on the Seine River in Paris, Il Tabarro is a moody, gripping work. The opera explores themes of love, betrayal, revenge, and the desperation and anguish of individuals trapped in harsh circumstances, painting a poignant and emotionally charged picture of the characters’ lives.

Here, on the docks of New York’s historical and beautiful South Street Seaport by the gangplank and main deck of the lightship Ambrose, through Il Tabarro, the company expressed plaintive resonances of the river, Cavalleria Rusticana emotions, and verismo effects of intense emotional expression. Puccini’s brief portentous, motivic musical references in Il Tabarro to his previously crafted opera La Bohème were delightfully relevant. Listeners may recall the opening melody of the aria Si, Mi chiamano Mimi portraying Puccini’s tragic character Mimi.

Scored for a large orchestra, Il Tabarro was accompanied at this performance instead by a chamber orchestra, providing listeners with an intimacy typically enjoyed at performances of works like Stravinsky’s Pulchinella or Histoire du Soldat. Instruments were amplified separately through an excellent sound system. Similarly, each vocalist used wireless body mics. This sound configuration resulted in immersive, intimate, visceral, and spellbinding access to the extraordinary artistry of the opera, the cast, and the orchestra. Sound, costumes, three-dimensional sets, and even the sound of the ship’s bells supported the expressions of musical beauty and contrasting raw, powerful emotions. We achieved unique access to the music’s psychological depths, vivid portrayals, and pivotal scenes.

The setting for Il Tabarro by the One Site Opera. Photo by Edward Kliszus

The setting for Il Tabarro by the One Site Opera. Photo by Edward Kliszus

The versatile and robust spinto tenor Yi Li was unswervingly magnificent as he expressed both Luigi’s simple and complex desires. In a duet with Giorgetta, O Luigi, Luigi, Li expressed Luigi’s yearning for a better life and passion for freedom. The profundity of his emotions was palpable as he longed for a world beyond the restrictions of the barge, free from monotony and rich with contentment. Giorgetta and Luigi’s forbidden love and passion reached intoxicating heights in this aria.

The Cast in a scene from On Site Opera Presents IlTabarro. Photo by Dan Wright Photography

The Cast in a scene from Il Tabarro. Photo by Dan Wright Photography

Soprano Ashley Milanese presented a passionate, poignant, and expressive Giorgetta through her delicate, brilliant, and soaring vocal lines above the orchestral textures. She exquisitely expressed her longing for love, unfulfilled desires, and the depths of her yearning. In O Luigi! Luigi, while expressing her forbidden desire for Luigi, she revealed her innermost feelings. Giorgetta’s duet with Luigi in E’ ben altro il mio sogno was mesmerizing and heart-wrenching and captured the depth of her sorrow, regret, and emotional pain.

The third member of the love triangle, Giorgetta’s husband Michele, performed by Eric McKeever, showcased the baritone’s ability to project through music the essence of human passion and intense emotions that drove the opera’s tragic events. In Scorri, fiume, McKeever’s magnificent voice resonated with melancholy and resignation, capturing the weight of Michele’s past and acceptance of life’s sometimes harsh realities. Later in O Luigi! Luigi! with Giorgetta, and while confronting his wife’s infidelity, he projects desperation and fury. In Nulla! Silenzo! McKeever trembled with grief and rage as he poured out Michele’s heart-wrenching emotions—the music built to a dramatic climax, reflecting the magnitude of anguish and unfolding of cataclysmic events.

Tonight’s soloists were consistently marvelous and presented a thrilling performance of a seminal artwork with the support of a splendid chorus, orchestra, and production team. With fine sound, staging, and costumes rendered in a unique maritime setting, we extravagantly experienced the opera’s dramatic and emotional depth characterized through Puccini’s rich, evocative inventions. The performance was a memorable, compelling, and immersive experience.

The cast of On Site Opera's Il Tabarro. Photos from OSOpera.org

The cast of On Site Opera’s Il Tabarro. Photos from OSOpera.org

 On Site Opera presents Puccini’s Il Tabarro (1918)

Music by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giuseppa Adami
Based on Didier Gold’s Play La houppelande

CAST

Yi Li as Luigi
Jose Heredia as Tinca
Eric McKeever as Michele
Ashley Milanese as Giorgetta
Sharmay Musacchio as La Frugola
Dane Suarez as Song Seller/Lover/Luigi Cover (absent for this performance and covered by Daniel Rosenberg)
Daniel Rosenberg as Ensemble Tenor/Tinca/Song Seller/Lover Cover
Artega Wright as Talpa
Claire Coven as Ensemble Mezzo
Yohji Daquio as Ensemble Soprano
Lindsey Kanaga as Female Lover/Ensemble Soprano
Paul La Rosa as Ensemble Baritone/Michele Cover
Brian McQueen as Ensemble Bass/Talpa Cover
Theodora Siegal as Ensemble Soprano
Kiena Williams as Ensemble Soprano/Giorgetta Cover
Joanna Vladyka as Ensemble Mezzo/La Frugola Cover

(Go to https://osopera.org/productions/tabarro/ for cast bios)

PRODUCTION TEAM

Costume Coordinator – Sophie Stratyner
Costume Assistant – Ayden McKenzie
Rehearsal Pianist – Cris Frisco
House Manager – Ciara DiSeta

CREATIVE TEAM

Intimacy Director – Katherine M. Carter
Props Designer – Rachel Kenner
Costume Designer – Howard Tsvi Kaplan
Lighting Designer – Shawn K. Kaufman
Stage Director – Laine Rettmer
Sound Designer – Scott Stauffer
Stage Manager – Mariko Takizawa
Assistant Stage Manager – Tatyana Smith
Fight Director – Jason Paul Tate
Hair & makeup Designer – Gabrielle Vincent

THE ORCHESTRA

Featuring members of the American Modern Ensemble
Conductor – Geoffrey McDonald
Concertmaster — Georgy Valtchev
Violin 1 — Nikita Mozorov, Suzy Perelman
Violin 2 — Hector Falcon, Victoria Paterson
Viola — Artie Dibble, Jacob Rollins
Cello — Peter Sachon, Laura Metcalf
Bass — Pawel Knapik
Percussion — Clara Warnaar
Harp — Kristi Shade + cartage
Flute — Ginevra Petrucci
Oboe — Boris Baev
Clarinet — David Valbuena
Bassoon — Gilbert DeJean
Horn — Will DeVos, Eric Davis
Trumpet — Alejandro Lopez-Sammame
Trombone — Karl Lyden

Runtime was about 55 minutes.

ON SITE OPERA

PO Box 231480
New York, NY  10023
347-394-3050
For information, donations, and tickets, go to https://osopera.org/

Staff Contacts

Eric Einhorn, General & Artistic Director eric@osopera.org
Piper Gunnarson, Executive Director piper@osopera.org
Pooja Saha, Development Manager pooja@osopera.org
Emily Barber, Production Manager emily@osopera.org
Bowie Dunwoody, Marketing Manager bowie@osopera.org

Readers may also enjoy our reviews of the OnSite Opera production of Mozart’s The Magic FluteOratorio Society of New York performs Bach’s Mass in B minor, MasterVoices presents Iolanthe at Carnegie Hall, the Art Bath Salon Series, and Madama Butterfly at Lincoln Center.

The ON SITE OPERA Presents Puccini’s Il Tabarro

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