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Gerald Carpenter: Westmont Music Drama Workshop Stages Comic Opera ‘La Canterina’

The Westmont Music Drama Workshop will be presenting two performances of Joseph Haydn's short opera buffa La Canterina, at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Center Stage Theater in the Paseo Nuevo Mall.

The student cast includes Megan Silberstein, Andrew Combs, Kim Huff, Andrey Kitsen and Emmalee Wetzel.

The opera, like the Music Drama Workshop, is under the direction of adjunct professor Celeste Tavera. Proceeds will help underwrite the Westmont choir’s tour to Russia and Ukraine.

La Canterina was the first opera Haydn wrote for his new employers, the mighty Esterházy family, in the year when he became full Kapellmeister for their musical establishment, having worked as vice-Kapellmeister since 1761. The work is of the species that later became known as a backstage musical.

A pretty, talented young singer (Gasparina) and her mother — the part is frequently sung by a man — play two of the young woman's suitors for all they are worth, and one of them — the part frequently sung by a woman — is worth a great deal.

They are breathtakingly material girls who see absolutely no point in suffering, let alone dying, for their art. This, as it turns out, is a strong component of the young singer's irresistibility. When her greed and double-dealing are discovered, her suitors merely increase their ardor.

The first music Haydn learned was vocal music, as a choirboy, and his vocal scores always have an amazing fluency and ease. The melodies glow with delicate charm. His operas, of course, lack the depth and the grandeur of Wolfgang Mozart's, but they are certainly a pleasant, elegant way to spend an hour or two.

Tickets to La Canterina are $13.50 and can be purchased at the theater box office or online by clicking here.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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