The Eastman School of Music’s winter opera, “Orlando” by George Fredric Handel, was a hit, with last weekend’s showings at the Eastman Opera Studio sold out days beforehand.
The plot was quite typical for an opera and included crazy lovers and a sorcerer. The basic story is about a solider in Charlemagne’s army named Orlando. He rescued Angelica, queen of Cathay during his last battle and is now madly in love with her. Little does he know, she is in love with Medoro, an African prince. Angelica and Medoro are staying with Dorinda, a shepherdess who happens to be in love with Medoro. The sorcerer, Zoroastro, weaves in and out of the story, helping characters along the way.
Upon entering the opera studio, audience members were awed by the set which took up most of the room. Shows in the opera studio are usually done with smaller sets, but this one included doors, turntables, a tree with lights, and various small compartments. This large set left very little room for the instrumentalists in the orchestra; the horns played from backstage, and the other instrumentalists were basically seated in the audience. This added to the intimacy of the space, making the audience members feel even more a part of the story.
The beautiful costumes were somewhat based on the movie, “The Prestige.” According to the program, director Alison Moritz saw striking similarities between the film and the opera.
Certain scenes from the show were especially memorable. One of these was the scene in which Dorinda finds out that Angelica and Medoro are lovers instead of siblings as they had originally told her. Medoro, played by senior Nadia Fayad, was extremely expressive with her facial expressions as well as with her singing.
Zach Burgess as the sorcerer was comical and captivating, accompanied by his lovely assistant played by sophomore Betsy Pilon. Junior Paulina Swierczek was beautiful and graceful through the entire show, and Caroline O’Dwyer was gallient and strong as the brave, eponymous hero. Zorica Pavlovic was stunning as well as amusing as Dorinda the shepherdess. This particular cast performed the show twice this weekend. The other cast, which also performed two shows, included performances by Anthony Baron, junior Joel Dyson, sophomore Stephanie Kim, Sophic Fedderson, and Tracy Chang.
Eastman has a long history of fantastic operas, and “Orlando” was no exception. Eastman is now gearing up for its spring opera, “Street Scene,” which will include many returning cast members from “Orlando.”
Sanguinetti is a member of the class of 2015.