Voices of Italy
The Luciano Pavarotti Heritage
The Spirit of Naples
At New York City Center
Original Concept & Producer: Luigi Caiola
Gino Magurno & Renato Salvetti
Lyrics: Annalisa Madonna
Visual Concept: Claude Tissier
Costume Designer: Giuseppe Tramontano
Director/Choreographer: Vittorio Biagi
Conductor: Pasquale Menchise
Press: Keith Sherman & Associates, Inc.
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 19, 2013
ArtsLab OnStage presented a preview of two new shows at New York City Center, and it appeared that the entire tri-state Italian community was there to support it. The two shows are “T’Ammore”, a Neapolitan dance-drama, and “Belcanto”, sung by 16 young Italian belcanto singers. It was a warm, vibrant ambiance, with much Italian language being spoken before and after the show. It helped that Luciano Pavarotti’s name was on the program, as the Fondazione Luciano Pavarotti keeps his memory alive. A giant photo of Pavarotti was lowered, when his recorded vocals were added near the finale. Young opera students were always supported by Pavarotti, and now his Foundation, with the support of its founder, Pavarotti’s wife, Nicoletta Mantovani, is showcasing youthful and promising talent.
The production of Voices of Italy included the 25-musician Orchestra of Spoleto, 16-vocalist “Belcanto”, as well as an ensemble of 5-singer/percussion, and 9-dancer “T’Ammore”. The previews were loosely presented, in preparation for future full-length productions. However, they were both vibrant and virtuosic. “Belcanto” brought out individual and ensemble operatic artists, singing Puccini’s arias, such as “E lucevan le stelle” from Tosca, “Quando men vo’” from La Bohème, “Tu che di gel sei cinta” from Turandot, Bizet’s “Seguedille” from Carmen, and Verdi’s “Questa o quella” from Rigoletto and “Tacea la note placida” from Trovatore. Additional arias, popular and renowned Italian songs, as well, brought the audience to enormous vocal accolades. It was reminiscent of watching “The Three Tenors” years ago, with Pavarotti jubilantly in fine form.
“T’Ammore” brought out dancers and performers, most in costumes, for “Flames of Vesuvius”, “Lacreme napulitane”, and “Cicerenella song”, among nine scores. These were new compositions, some electronic, with barefoot dancers moving to percussion and strings. Projections added historical content. Singers with guitarists, a few props, a few veils, all created intriguing imagery. There were also Pulcinella figures in masks and white shirts, cavorting athletically and comically, like a silent chorus. The story centers on a tarantula spider biting the feet of young ladies who endlessly dance the tarantella to loosen the spider’s venom. The notes mention “the power of music and dance”. Vittorio Biagi choreographed the piece, with original music and arrangements by Gino Magurno and Renato Salvetti, and lyrics by Annalisa Madonna. Costumes are by Giuseppe Tramontano.
A well-received feature of “Belcanto” was the excerpted vocal bookends of “Nessun dorma” from Turandot. The notes say that “Belcanto tells the story of the vocal style created in Italy, then traveled around the world…” I look forward to the full-length, final productions of these two cultural previews, hopefully in 2014. Each program included a CD of the dance scores and vocal highlights. Kudos to ArtsLab OnStage, and kudos to the Pavarotti Foundation.