Marcello Giordani, Metropolitan Opera Tenor, Mentors Cast of New ‘Cosi’

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Following the tradition of established artists mentoring emerging ones, Metropolitan Opera tenor Marcello Giordani took a taxi to a small rehearsal studio in Manhattan on March 1, 2009 to share his wisdom and experience with the cast of Underworld Productions’ “Cosi fan Tutte: Defining Women.”

That production will take stage April 29 and 30, 2009 at Manhattan’s Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton Symphony Space. It’ll be a special appearance for Underworld Productions, whose work is often more grass-roots. Led by Gina Crusco, the company is known for its free outreach performances, aimed at creating wider audiences for opera by bringing music to people with limited access to the arts. This takes its singers to such venues as nursing homes and the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood.

“It’s not everyday that you can perform for and ask questions of a world renowned tenor. I appreciated Mr. Giordani’s generosity, insight and honesty,” remarked participant Ladie Whitaker.

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Marcello Giordani (kneeling) with members of the ensemble of Cosi fan Tutte: Defining Women. L to R: Ivan Rivera, John Hager Flores, Ladie Whitaker, Nathan Resika, Jeannie Im, Gina Crusco (director), Casey Hutchinson, La Toya Lewis, Kristina Malinauskaite, Sarah Pigion, Nicole McQuade, Soyoung Choi.

At Ripley Greer Studios on West 72nd Street, Giordani offered advice to the young singers of the cast of “Cosi fan Tutte: Defining Women.” Reflecting on his own career arc, he emphasized understanding one’s instrument and accepting roles for long-term growth rather than short-term gain.

“Your voice is a gift and making music is a mission. You must put aside thoughts of personal gain, and preserve your voice in the service of this great art,” Mr. Giordani told the group. A lively discussion followed, ranging from specific questions about vocal technique in recitative, to broad questions about Mozartian and bel canto styles.

Marcello Giordani joined UP’s Advisory Board in October 2008, citing the opportunity “to play an active role in areas which have long been of special interest to me” such as outreach and training. Mr. Giordani sings in the major opera houses of the world. He made a sensation in the title role of the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Berlioz’ “La Damnation de Faust.” On April 20th, 2008, Mr. Giordani appeared before the Pope to sing “Panis Angelicus” by Cesar Franck during the Papal Mass in Yankee Stadium, and also sang “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot at the pre-Mass show. He participated in “Meet in Beijing 2008 Cultural Events” and sang a pre-season performance of Verdi’s Requiem, conducted by James Levine as a memorial to Luciano Pavarotti. Mr. Giordani returned to the Met this spring as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, and will also participate in the 125th Anniversary Gala.

Underworld Productions Opera Ensemble (www.underworldprod.com), created in 2004 under the artistic direction of Gina Crusco, an Inwood resident, has presented eight shows since its inception, a mixture of classics and new works. Last season, the troupe performed the world premiere of “JULIA: An Operatic Monodrama” by Henry Papale.

“Cosi fan Tutte: Defining Women” will be presented April 29 and 30, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, New York City. The opera will be sung in Italian with English and Spanish supertitles. This adaptation will use an generally faithful but abridged version of the classical opera by W.A. Mozart, with libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. The subtitles are written by Gina Crusco and translated into Spanish by Elisa Gonzalez.

UP’s “Cosi” sticks with the original until the very end, when it introduces a little modern mischief that the impish Mozart might have relished. The opera is a comedy of three men, three women, a little fiance-swapping, a wedding and the unanswered question of who is marrying whom. Underworld Productions will ask audience members to pair up the characters for the final wedding scene. Electronic voting will take place at intermission, and the cast will respond by implementing the favored ending.

Tickets are $30; reserved $20; Symphony Space Member/Student/Senior/Group $15. Reserved tickets are available at the Symphony Space Box Office Tuesday through Sunday from 12 noon until 6 pm, in person or by telephone: 212-864-5400. For online purchases visit: http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/2911-cosi-fan-tutte-defining-women.