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"A Grand Night for Singing" at Dicapo Opera Theatre

- Classical and Cultural Connections

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

A Grand Night for Singing
Music and Lyrics by Rodgers and Hammerstein

Conceived by Walter Bobbie
Musical Arrangements by Fred Wells
Production: Francine Harman
Musical Director: Pacien Mazzagatti
Set Design: John Farrell
Costume Design: Diane Martindale
Lighting Design: Susan Roth

Joan Barber, Joy Hermalyn, Janette Zilioli
Dominic Inferrera, Rob Lorey

Pacien Mazzagatti Conducting and on Piano
Laura Metcalf on Cello, Ryan Koehler on Bass
Louisa Ellis Woodson on Harp
John McMurtery and Chris Miele on Woodwinds
Ed Gonzales on Percussion

Press: Shuman Associates

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 19, 2006

Walter Bobbie has another hit in his portfolio. His newest show at Dicapo Opera Theatre, which runs for six performances, is a compilation of some of the finest songs ever written, the best of Rodgers and Hammerstein. “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top”, “We Kiss in the Shadows”, “Many a New Day”, “If I Loved You”, “Shall We Dance”, “It Might As Well Be Spring”, and “I Have Dreamed” are just some of the ballads that we were treated to at today’s matinee, and the below stage orchestra was enchanting, with music arranged by Fred Wells. Dicapo Opera is housed in a gorgeous church on the East Side of Manhattan, and it’s airy and contemporary with an intimate, classy ambiance.

The stage design for this production could have been a moonlit walkway, with street lamps and tiny lights, framed in blue and black, and the performers are not new to this magazine, with the exception of Janette Zilioli, a radiant woman with shimmering black hair and a radiant voice to match. Joan Barber and Rob Lorey have been favorably reviewed in NYC Ballet’s West Side Story Suite. Joy Hermalyn was twice reviewed in Fiddler on the Roof, where she had the role of Fruma Sarah, and Dominic Inferrera was just reviewed at Café Mozart’s operatic celebration of Mozart’s 250th birthday. And, as it happens, Walter Bobbie was also reviewed in an acting, dancing, singing role in Polish Joke and in a directorial role in Sweet Charity.

Bobbie is known for his witty originality and campy devices, and in this production there are some May-September relationships in the casting duets. I find this idea intriguing, and he obviously put talent above standard considerations. Joan Barber has a Broadway styled voice that’s rich and mellifluous, clear and charismatic. Joy Hermalyn, a seasoned actress, uses theatricality with ease. Rob Lorey exudes warmth and charm, and his delivery of luscious lyrics is eloquent and engaging. Dominic Inferrera is a trained operatic baritone with powerful presence. Janette Zilioli is a trained operatic soprano, and she exuded passion and pizzazz.

Memorable solos include Rob, in “Maria”, Joy in “If I Loved You”, Joan in “The Gentleman Is a Dope”, Dominic in “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’”, and Janette in “Something Wonderful”. Memorable duos and ensemble songs are Dominic and Rob together in “All at Once You Love Her”, Janette and Joy in “Stepsisters’ Lament”, and Dominic, Joan, Joy, and Rob in “A Lovely Night”. These performers know how to project clear lyrics and emotion, and their casual gestures added greatly to the melancholy or madcap moments. The transitions between songs were seamless.

The orchestra used Ed Gonzales’ exotic percussion and Louisa Ellis Woodson’s lovely harp enhancements, over the standard piano, bass, cello, woodwinds, and drums. Pacien Mazzagatti conducted from his piano with the flourish of a hand, and Laura Metcalf was remarkably resonant on her cello. Ryan Koehler added depth to the Broadway and film standards with his earthy bass, and John McMurtery and Chris Miele switched between flutes, clarinet, and alto sax. Also noteworthy were the exquisitely designed gowns for the three female singers, all created by Boutique Elle on Lexington Avenue. This was quite a musical and visual feast for a Sunday afternoon.

Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers
Photo courtesy of Movie Star News

Rodgers and Hammerstein Montage
Photo courtesy of Dicapo Opera Theatre

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at