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Nilas Martins Dance Company and Dicapo Opera Theatre Present Puccini
-Onstage with the Dancers

Check out our Sponsors
Check out our Sponsors

Dicapo Opera Theatre
www.dicapo.com
Michael Capasso, General Director
Diane Martindale, Artistic Director
184 East 76th Street
New York, NY

And

The Nilas Martins Dance Company

Present
Messa Di Gloria (1880)
Featuring:
Oziel Garza-Ornelas, Baritone,
Drew Slatton, Tenor
And
The Nilas Martins Dance Company
Jonathan Alsberry, Ellie Kusner, Antonio Brown, Bennyroyce Royon,
Nicole Corea, Harumi Terayama, Helen Hansen, Luis Gabriel Zaragoza
And
The Dicapo Opera Theatre Chorus

Le Villi (1884)
Featuring:
Hilda Ramos as Anna (Opera): Ashley Tuttle as Anna (Ballet)
Arthur Shen as Roberto (Opera): Benjamin G. Bowman as Roberto (Ballet)
Oziel Garza-Ornelas as Guglielmo (Opera)
Nicole Corea as The Siren (Ballet)
Bill Van Horn as Narrator
And
The Nilas Martins Dance Company
And
The Dicapo Opera Theatre Chorus
With
The Dicapo Opera Orchestra
Francisco Bonnin, Conductor

Shuman Associates, Press
shumanpr@cs.com
and
Robert Lombardo & Associates, Press
Managing Director, Nilas Martins Dance Company
www.rlombardo.com

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 12, 2007

Originally Published on ExploreDance.com



Program:

Messa Di Gloria (1880): Composed by Giacomo Puccini, Choreography by Stephen Pier, Assistant to Mr. Pier, Miki Orihara, Ballet/Rehearsal Mistress, Wendy Reinert, Production by Michael Capasso, Set Design by John Farrell, Costume Design by Angela Huff, Lighting Design by Susan Roth, Performed by The Dicapo Theatre Chorus, The Dicapo Theatre Orchestra, The Nilas Martins Dance Company, Oziel Garza-Ornelas, Baritone, and Drew Slatton, Tenor.

Le Villi (1884): Composed by Giacomo Puccini, Libretto by Ferdinando Fontana, Choreography by Nilas Martins, ballet/Rehearsal Mistress, Wendy Reinert, Production by Michael Capasso, Set Design by John Farrell, Costume Design by Angela Huff, Lighting Design by Susan Roth, Performed by the Dicapo Theatre Chorus, The Dicapo Theatre Orchestra, The Nilas Martins Dance Company, and Hilda Ramos as Anna (Opera): Ashley Tuttle as Anna (Ballet), Arthur Shen as Roberto (Opera): Benjamin G. Bowman as Roberto (Ballet), Oziel Garza-Ornelas as Guglielmo (Opera), Nicole Corea as The Siren (Ballet), and Bill Van Horn as Narrator.

This unique collaboration of Dicapo Opera Theatre and The Nilas Martins Dance Company (Nilas Martins is a Principal in New York City Ballet) was a huge success, followed by numerous curtain calls and a standing ovation. Mr. Martins (now also Dicapo's Director if Dance) staged Puccini Passion! this past year, and this production is also an homage to Puccini, with two massive choral works presented, this time with full orchestra, full chorus, and opera and ballet soloists in occasional "mirrored" roles, performing the verbal and visual extensions of the same character. It is to the credit of Dicapo Opera Theatre and Nilas Martins that such a daring and dramatic duality was conceived and staged.

The first work on tonight's program, Puccini's Messa Di Gloria, found the chorus in notable depth and musicality, in the segments entitled: Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. This deeply religious Mass included the themes of redemption, glory, resurrection, peace, and mercy. Dicapo's Opera Theatre Chorus gave a textured, resonant, and moving interpretation of this work. Tonight's soloists, the baritone, Oziel Garza-Ornelas, and the tenor, Drew Slatton, presented highly professional, solo arias, with confidence, clarity, and depth. Stephen Pier, the new work's choreographer, and his assistant, Miki Orihara (formerly of the Martha Graham Dance Company), had the Nilas Martins dance ensemble moving with up-stretched arms, all the while with feet firmly placed onstage (ballet slippers, but not en pointe, in a choreographic style evocative of Graham, herself).

The orchestra held its own and more, with contrasting tempo and tone. The dancers flowed with the chorus, in a structure that paired male dancers and male chorus, female dancers and female chorus, plus mixed gender performances, and, at times, the entire chorus or orchestra performed unaccompanied by dancers, for a constantly shifting focus in genre and aesthetic. Michael Capasso, Nilas Martins, and their lighting, set, and costume designers combined a most challenging assortment of visual, physical, logistical, and musical constructs. This is a well-conceived partnership, one that can only grow and develop in yet-to-be-seen projects.

In fact, the second half of the program, Puccini's opera, Le Villi, the story of the Willis, often experienced in the full-length story ballet, Giselle (music by Adolphe Adam), was even more riveting and rapturous than Messa Di Gloria. Ashley Tuttle, who starred in Twyla Tharp's Movin' Out, was Anna, the "alter ego" of Anna, the soprano, Hilda Ramos. Both were virtuosic performers, with both onstage together in mirror images, or solo, or, in one amazing moment, as Ms. Ramos briefly danced. Ms. Tuttle did not sing, nor did Benjamin G. Bowman, as Roberto, the "alter ego" of Roberto, the tenor, Arthur Shen. In the plot, well understood, thanks to the high tech libretto on Dicapo's over-hung projections, Roberto is unfaithful to his fiancée, Anna, and, as a result of his seduction by the Siren, Anna dies of loneliness and despair, soon becoming a Willi (the spirit of a rejected and deceased fiancée) and joining in his dance to the death by the chorus of Willis. Guglielmo, Anna's father, also remains distraught and vengeful.

Hilda Ramos is a star to watch, with some of the most riveting solo arias I have heard ("I am no longer love; I am revenge"). Arthur Shen, as Roberto, was dynamic and driven in his arias of guilt and torment. Oziel Garza-Ornelas, as Anna's father, Guglielmo, was even more impassioned and intense in his Le Villi arias than in those of Messa Di Gloria. The ballet soloists were inspired and possessed, especially Nicole Corea in the Siren seduction of Roberto, the moment of truth when he loses his future. This was a sensual, erotic, and rare pas de deux, choreographed by Mr. Martins, and the ballet imagery was extended and enraptured. The two dancers intertwined, interlocked, and writhed in the moment. Benjamin Bowman danced the role of lustful, shattered lover/ex-fiancée with internalized and externalized emotions.

The Narrator, Bill Van Horn, powerfully spoke just enough of the plot to illuminate the cause of the Willis, and Arthur Shen and Hilda Ramos sang respective solos of angst and anger, remorse and revenge. All the while, the seven other members of the Martins Dance Company, in black and white, alternated with choral and orchestral passages in choreography indicative of the promising new Artistic Director, Nilas Martins, already known as a successful dancer, composer, musical arranger, and occasional pianist. The Dicapo Opera Theatre has enhanced its productions for some time to come with this bright, new Director of Dance, and, in addition, the Dicapo Opera Theatre chorus and orchestra, as well as tonight's guest operatic artists, created a memorable and mesmerizing performance of two of Giacomo Puccini's masterpieces.

A rehearsal with Nilas Martins, soprano Hilda Ramos and tenor Arthur Shen singing the roles of Anna and Roberto in Le Villi, with Ashley Tuttle and Benjamin Bowman dancing the roles.

Photo courtesy of James Martindale


Hilda Ramos and Arthur Shen singing, as Ashley Tuttle and Benjamin Bowman dances the roles.

Photo courtesy of James Martindale


Soprano Hilda Ramos sings the role of Anna in Le Villi as Ashley Tuttle dances the role.

Photo courtesy of James Martindale


Members of the Nilas Martins Dance Company as Le Villi (the willys), souls of unfaithful lovers.

Photo courtesy of James Martindale


Members of the Nilas Martins Dance Company perform Puccini's Messa di Gloria in a production for dancers and singers staged by choreographer Stephen Pier at Dicapo Opera Theatre

Photo courtesy of James Martindale


Members of the Nilas Martins Dance Company perform Puccini's Messa di Gloria in a production for dancers and singers staged by choreographer Stephen Pier at Dicapo Opera Theatre

Photo courtesy of James Martindale


Bob Lombardo and Lise la Cour

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Bob Lombardo, Francisco Bonnin (Conductor), Nilas Martins

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Francisco Bonnin and Nilas Martins

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Arthur Shen

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Lise la Cour and Her Son, Nilas Martins

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Hilda Ramos

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Hilda Ramos and Julienne Viola (Freed of London)

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


Diane Martindale (Dicapo Artistic Director) and Hilda Ramos

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

 

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net