Reviews

'Carmen' Star Casts a Sey Spell
ST. PETERSBURG — Carmen needs a fine Carmen, of course, and St. Petersburg Opera has one in Cherry Duke...Duke looked the part of the sultry spitfire, and her French had a throaty expressiveness in the card scene that foretells Carmen's death. Tenor Mark Nicolson was a worthy partner...Hellman brought down the house in Micaela's dramatic aria in Act 3... The seasoned bass Diego Baner was luxury casting as Zuniga...Artistic director Mark Sforzini conducted the 34-piece orchestra.
St. Petersburg Times
St. Petersburg Opera excels in pacing and performance in Mozart's 'Cosi fan tutte'
St. Petersburg Opera excelled Friday in the first of three performances this weekend of Cosi Fan Tutte at the Palladium Theater. Right from the brisk pacing of the overture under artistic director Mark Sforzini, the orchestra and singers had a sure grasp of the masterful score, a huge swath of complex music as the evening clocked in around three hours, including an intermission.St. Petersburg Opera excelled Friday in the first of three performances this weekend of Cosi Fan Tutte at the Palladium Theater. Right from the brisk pacing of the overture under artistic director Mark Sforzini, the orchestra and singers had a sure grasp of the masterful score, a huge swath of complex music as the evening clocked in around three hours, including an intermission.
St. Petersburg Times
'The Voyage of Life' by Mark Sforzini premiered in Encore chamber music series
As Sforzini himself readily admits, he is far from an avant-garde composer, but he overcame any reservations I had with what felt like a major step forward in his career with the artfully crafted Voyage, which had the audience enthralled.The brilliant first movement, Childhood, was my favorite section. It began with a three-note figure in piano, then the entrance of tentative strings, lyrical little flute passages, these somewhat fragmented parts together suggesting the dark, mysterious source of the river in the painting. Gradually the piece gained in coherence, but it never became predictable or saccharine. In fact, it didn't take long for me to stop thinking about the boy and angel in the boat and become absorbed in the music.

The second movement featured each player in a spacious, wide-screen melody, evoking Cole's castle in the air representing the dreams and ambitions of Youth, and it concluded with a lovely, wistful theme by flute. The Molto Allegro third movement, on the turbulence of Manhood, unfolded in fleet, almost perpetual motion in the piano, which also added spiky punctuation as the other players had their say. The relatively brief finale, Old Age, was most colored by the deep, autumnal tones of the cello, leading to a moment of exquisite stillness, followed by a leap into one last glorious gesture at the end.
St. Petersburg Times
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Sforzini: As Far as Angels Ken


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