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Thursday, 17 March 2011 12:01

Nothing rusty about Winter Opera St. Louis’ production of Cavalleria Rusticana

Written by Missy Heinemann
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The Details

  • Director: Allyson Ditchey
  • Dates: March 12 and 13, 2011
Nothing rusty about Winter Opera St. Louis’ production of Cavalleria Rusticana

There is an untapped cultural resource here in St. Louis, and it is poised to become the artistic beacon of our fair city; Opera. Well over a year ago I was fortunate enough to witness some of the finest opera singers in our area deliver a breathtaking production that I thought may be artistically exclusive to that particular company. Last weekend, however, I was reminded that theatre companies are only as good as the talent they place before audiences, and the talent displayed in Winter Opera St. Louis’ production of Cavalleria Rusticana was quite simply, remarkable.

Adapted from a play written by Giovanni Verga, Cavalerria Rusticana is the first of many opera’s written by Pietro Mascagni at the turn of the 20th century. Known as his most successful, Cavalleria Rusticana tells the tale of Turrido, a young villager who returns from military service to find his fiancée, Lola, wed to Alfio, the village wine carter.

As the opera begins, it is revealed that Lola and Turrido are having an affair. Suspecting this adulterous behavior is Santuzza, a village woman Turrido seduced after learning of Lola’s marriage to Alfio. Distraught by her discovery, Santuzza attempts to win back Turrido’s affections, turning to his mother, Lucia, for guidance.

Performing the role of Turrido, tenor Gary Seydell was captivating; his voice pierced each note and rang with brilliant vibrato. Singing of his deep love for Lola (played by the ethereal Sara Gottman, mezzo-saprano), Turrido must face the scornful words of Santuzza, performed by Sarah Price. The prize of the show, Price displayed an astounding vocal range that undoubtedly requires a masterful amount of control. Her rich, colorful tone made the hour and fifteen minute production blaze. Providing balance and texture to the opera, Mascagni features several jovial pieces in his one- act opera, delivered by a chorus who sing of life’s simple pleasures, including wine.

Accompanying the solid cast was a 17-piece orchestra led by Conductor Edward Benyas. To offer audiences the opportunity to hear live musicians perform Mascagni’s masterpiece was a treat; one always provided by Winter Opera St. Louis.

Founded by Artistic Director Gina Galati, Winter Opera St. Louis performances take place throughout St. Louis, including St. Ambrose Church on The Hill, where this production of Cavalleria Rusticana was held. Each note soared and swelled within the marble-filled church space, adding to the wonderful experience.

Cavalleria Rusticana was the last production in Winter Opera St. Louis’ 4th season, running March 12th and 13th. For information or to get involved in Winter Opera St. Louis, you may visit them on the web at

Additional Info

  • Director: Allyson Ditchey
  • Dates: March 12 and 13, 2011

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