Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists Are Puccini Perfect

Monday, October 2, 2006

Placido Domingo took the stage at the Kennedy Center Opera House Friday to advise a mostly young-adult audience, "Feel free to laugh -- a lot." General director of the Washington National Opera, the distinguished tenor and conductor was introducing a performance of Puccini's only comic opera, "Gianni Schicchi," by the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists. The two-year project, which offers intensive training for singers, coach-accompanists, directors and conductors, is part of "Generation O," a free program of performances and related events for those 18 to 35 -- all aimed at capturing future opera audiences.

Conducted by Giovanni Reggioli, the cast of over a dozen singers gave a superb account of Puccini's rollicking farce, meeting the challenges of complex ensemble work while engaging in stage athletics of Olympic scope. Most impressive was the glowing tenor voice of Yingxi Zhang as the animated young lover Rinuccio, joined by ebullient soprano Elizabeth Andrews Roberts as his devoted Lauretta, and resonant baritone Obed UreƱa as the avaricious title character, whose mustache and buffoonery here perfectly reincarnated Groucho Marx.

And laugh the audience did -- a lot.

-- Cecelia Porter

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