This January, the UH Moores Opera Center boldly sets the stage for comedy with its Winter Comic Opera Festival productions of “The Inspector” and “The Secret Marriage.”
Though both operas are set in the past, the themes of dirty politics and dysfunctional families will connect with contemporary audiences, said Buck Ross, founder and director of the Moores Opera Center.
“The Inspector,” created by composer John Musto and librettist Mark Campbell, is set in a small, Mussolini-era Italian village. The townspeople have just discovered that an incognito government inspector is paying them a visit and, in haste, set to straightening up their acts, covering up an array of bad behavior. Inspired by Nikolai Gogol’s political satire “The Government Inspector,” Musto and Campbell’s opera premiered at Wolf Trap in 2011 to glowing acclaim. The Associated Press called it a “rollicking treat” and the Washington Examiner described it as “witty and sophisticated with a satirical bite.”
“For those who think opera is just a fat lady with horns warbling until a glass breaks, this show will be a delightful shock,” said Andrew Gilstrap (MM 2018), who will perform the lead role of corrupt Mayor Fazzobaldi. “It’s riotously funny and a lot of the scenes feel like Broadway numbers!”
The festival’s second opera is Domenico Cimarosa’s “The Secret Marriage,” a farcical story that unfolds around an Italian family with two daughters. One daughter has been promised to a wealthy, fickle English count, but chaos ensues when he decides he prefers her sister, who has secretly married her father’s servant and object of her aunt’s affections.
“We’ve taken a big, bold, colorful approach to ‘The Secret Marriage,’” said Ross. “Think Alice in Wonderland meets the 18th century.”
The Winter Comic Opera Festival begins on January 26, 2017 and will include performances of “The Inspector” on January 26, 28, and 29 and performances of “The Secret Marriage” on January 27, 29, and 30. “The Inspector” is sung in English with the text projected above the stage and runs about an hour and a half plus an intermission. “The Secret Marriage” is sung in Italian with English translations projected above the stage and runs about two hours plus an intermission.