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Music

Opera under the Stars Impresses Audience in Lower Manhattan

NEW YORK – In partnership with the Battery City Park Authority (BPCA), Teatro Grattacielo presented a full production of composer Riccardo Zandonai’s Giulietta e Romeo with libretto by Arturo Rossato on June 4-5. The site-specific production took place in Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park in Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan as part of the Festival of New York. The two performances, free and open to the public, were held outdoors next to the Hudson waterfront with the Statue of Liberty in clear view.

The opera is based on Luigi da Porto’s original publication: Storia di Giulietta e Romeo con loro pietosa morte avvenuta in Verona.  This is the first written version of the story of Romeo and Juliet as we know it. Luigi da Porto, a writer from Vicenza, published it in 1530, almost 60 years before Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. The opera Giulietta e Romeo debuted 100 years ago, on February 14, 1922, at Costanzi Theater in Rome.

Teatro Grattacielo Executive and Artistic Director Stefanos Koroneos said: “We chose Zandonai’s beautiful Giulietta e Romeo because it fits the architectural setting of the Wagner Pavilion and highlights an Italian operatic masterpiece that tells a story of eternal love – exactly the sentiment that many of us are in need of right now. We have assembled a world class international cast, while we are very happy to be bringing back the Grattacielo Orchestra.”

Eleni Calenos. Photo: Courtesy of Teatro Grattacielo

Attendees were impressed by the production, the talented musicians and the clear-toned singing of the stars and the entire cast. Soprano Eleni Calenos, in the role of Guilietta, gave a dynamic performance alongside tenor Matthew Vickers in the role of Romeo, baritone Franco Pomponi in the role of Tebaldo, tenor Spenser Hamlin in the role of Il Cantatore, baritone Eric McKeever in the role of Banditore, and tenor David Santiago in the role of Gregorio. The performances were conducted by Christian Capocaccia and directed by Stefanos Koroneos. Sets and costumes were curated by Tasos Protopsaltou, and projections designed by Camilla Tassi.

Young conductor Giorgos Sakarellos served as assistant to the conductor and Greek-American mezzosoprano Melina Jaharis sang the role of Isabella in Saturday’s performance while Joanna Vladyka sang the role on Sunday.

Teatro Grattacielo presented the opera Giulietta e Romeo in Wagner Park in Lower Manhattan. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Audience members of all ages enjoyed the performance in the dramatic outdoor setting under the stars. Some brought along a picnic to enjoy along with the beautiful music and the dramatic spectacle unfolding before their eyes.

Following the performance on Sunday, Koroneos spoke with The National Herald about the experience of mounting a full-scale production of this powerful opera outdoors. “It was a great opportunity to showcase this operatic masterpiece at one of New York’s architectural masterpieces: Wagner Park,” he told TNH.

More information is available online: https://bit.ly/3QhoWkK.

Teatro Grattacielo Executive and Artistic Director Stefanos Koroneos. Photo: Courtesy of Teatro Grattacielo

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