Mayhem, Malbec, Madness & More Awaits #inWilm

Opera Uncorked IN Wilmington

One or more characters usually falls in love, and somebody often dies at the end. Sure, that could be any given week on Grey’s Anatomy, but these types of shows are called nighttime soap OPERAS for a reason.

If you have never consumed opera, October might be the time to try it. OperaDelaware has put together a very digestible evening of song in their comfortable riverfront studio setting, appropriately themed for the season: Opera Uncorked with Swigg: Mayhem, Malbec, Madness & More on October 19 and 21.

Malbec, you say? Over the course of two hours, there will be two intermissions – about every four songs. At each break, those who have bought into Swigg’s $10 optional wine tasting (you can buy in when you arrive, and start enjoying your wine right away) will be treated to a wine specially-paired to the next repertoire theme.

The “madness” theme begins with a number of songs representing the rapid, irrational fashion in which opera characters usually fall in love.

The first, “Donna non vidi mai,” from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, is the 1890s answer to “Call Me Maybe.” After just meeting Ms. Lescaut, the tenor, Des Grieux, sings an aria about how he loves her.

Brendan Cooke, OperaDelaware’s General Director, says that it is, “Nothing short of madness, in the most operatic way. Opera does this a lot.”

And opera does this without amplification. Whether you see an opera in a small, studio-style venue like Opera Studios, or in a grand hall, you’re almost always hearing the voices naturally projecting into the space. It’s eerie if you think about it.

If your only exposure to opera is from Bugs Bunny, you’ll be pleased to hear a song from Rossini’s Barber of Seville, “Una voce poco fa.” Although this is not the song with the lyric “Figaro si, Figaro la,” Cooke thinks this melody will ring familiar from commercials and movies.

“But I don’t speak Italian!” If this is your worry, don’t. All non-English songs are translated in real time on screens projected near the singers.

Representing the madness of regret after letting a love go, “Some Enchanted Evening” from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific is on the bill, as well as “Depuis le jour” from Charpentier’s Louise.

The final act of madness comes in the form of Mozart’s “Prendero quel brunettino” from Così fan tutte. This one is a duet by two sisters feigning indignance that their fidelity is being tested. But when their lovers come back in disguise (how Halloween-y) to try and woo the opposite ladies, they prove themselves less than rational.

As the theme moves on to “mayhem,” you’ll feel as though you’re getting to know the singers. Each will loosely introduce the pieces they’re about to sing.

You’ll get even MORE Barber of Seville with “La calunnia,” which translates to “calamity.” Most people will find this theme familiar: having heard treacherous rumors get started and seeing them snowball.

“La fleur que tu m’avais jetée,” from Bizet’s Carmen, is another declaration of love, but one tragically fated. More love-related histrionics come through “Acerba voluttà, dolce tortura,” from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur. And the mayhem theme concludes with “Pace, pace, mio Dio!” from Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, which finds Leonora calling for peace from God on her tortured soul.

Dra. Ma. Tic.

The next theme is “magic and more” and begins by conjuring up the classic sad clown. So appropriate for Halloween.

If you’ve even heard a little opera, “Vesti la giubba,” which ends with Pagliacci the clown audibly sobbing, may ring a bell. Leoncavallo developed this classic character whose wife is cheating on him, but who insists the show must go on.

OperaDelaware jumps back to English toward the end of the performance with “I Hold Your Hand in Mine” and “The Masochism Tango” by Tom Lehrer, a musical satirist from the 1950s. No spoilers, but the former is a suitable seasonal selection.

(It was fun listening to Cooke recite a number of the lyrics to these two songs from memory.)

Just when you get comfortable with the natural meter of so many Italian lyrics, and the lightness of the English poetry, OperaDelaware throws in some Czech, Dvořák’s “Čury mury fuk” (NOT pronounced phonetically) from Rusalka, in which the titular character boils a magic potion.

There’s a proper devil involved in two of the last theme’s songs: “Robert, toi que j’aime,” from Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable; and, Final Trio from Gounod’s Faust.

Murder, hell and clown makeup. Sounds like a well-rounded Halloween lineup to us.

The October performers are: Colleen Daly (Soprano), Sarah Saturnino (Mezzo-Soprano), Dane Suarez (Tenor), Brent Michael Smith (Bass), and Aurelien Eulert (OperaDelaware’s Chorus Master and Principal Pianist).

Tickets start at $29; wine tasting is an additional $10. Must be 21 or older to participate in tastings. A cash bar and sandwiches from Casapulla’s will also be available for purchase in the lobby.

OperaDelaware continues its season with an Artist Spotlight on mezzo-soprano Megan Marino on November 11. On February 1 and 3, Opera Uncorked with Swigg returns on a theme of Verdi, Verismo & Vino. OperaDelaware’s annual opera festival starts April 27.