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La Wally. (United States: New York; Opera in Review).

Teatro Grattacielo, a young New York opera company specializing in unknown and neglected Italian verismo works, chose Alfredo Catalani's La Wally as its annual concert-form production.

For the performance at Tully Hall under the capable direction of Guido Ajmone-Marsan, the company had assembled an admirable cast. In the vocally challenging title role, Manon Feubel, a strong dramatic soprano from Quebec, burst upon the scene in her U.S. debut to the acclaim of a large, enthusiastic audience. As the somewhat mysterious, willful daughter of Stromminger, a wealthy, domineering landowner and hunter, Wally reflects the opera's Swiss setting of joyful village festivities as well as the silence, solitude and menace of the unpredictable surrounding mountains. All this was convincingly expressed by Feubel's voice of dark resonance and seemingly effortless power, with particularly stunning high notes.

Monica Yunus, a light, firm coloratura soprano, also appeared in her New York debut as Walter, who sings his friend Wally's composition, the sad, haunting "Edelweiss." Of Wally's two competing suitors, her choice, Hagenbach, was sung by Frank Porretta, a tenor of considerable strength, though he tended to force his voice too strenuously. In the role of the jealous Gellner, preferred by her father, Brian Davis sang with a pleasant, diversely expressive baritone. As the plot thickened, Stossinger (well sung by Steven Frederick) throws Wally out of his house when she refuses Gellner. The lovers are ultimately reunited in the mountains, but Hagenbach is swept away by an avalanche; Wally, to join him in death, leaps off a precipice.

Ajmone-Marsan conducted the Teatro Grattacielo Orchestra and Chorus in the wildly romantic, surging, Italianate score, effectively interrupted by and blending with the delightfully simple, folk-like Swiss tunes.
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Title Annotation:Teatro Grattacielo, a New York opera company specializing in Italian verismo works, performed Alfredo Catalani's La Wally
Author:Berges, Ruth
Publication:Opera Canada
Article Type:Opera Review
Date:Mar 22, 2003
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