Narrowsburg, NY — Tusten Theatre was alive with the sounds of glorious operatic singing Saturday night as a large cast of enthusiastic Delaware Valley Opera singers and a polished pit orchestra under the direction of James Blanton staged a magnificent production of Jacques Offenbach's "La Perichole."
Coloratura (high-wire acrobatic singing) never sounded better in the hills of Sullivan County as Julie Ziavras, in the title role, displayed florid passages, trills, glissandos and sustained tones on high as her character exults in "waking up" in the Viceroy's palace. But before this upward mobility, Perichole and Paquillo (Osualdo Ciochetti) are poor street singers in 18th-century Lima, Peru, before she is tapped by the Viceroy to be his mistress. By play's end, the indigent couple is reunited and all ends well.
With Offenbach's music overlaying the Henry Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy libretto, the score and this production are drenched with lilting songs.
Opening the play is "Chorus of Merrymakers" as villagers drink and sing an enthusiastic tribute to a disguised Viceroy. Promoting the imbibing in "Song of the Three Cousins" are Susan Conroy, Susan Thompson and Carol Diefenbach, whose voices ring with conviction of purpose. In playing the pompous ruler, Eric Barsness flashes pomp and style as he delivers, with resonant and commanding voice, a brash "Song of the Incognito."
Sharing the same public square next are Perichole and Paquillo, who play instruments and playfully sing "The Soldier and the Indian Maid," following which the townspeople reinforce their theme with exuberant reprises of "A Spaniard knows the ways of love." Here and in much of the production, Ciochetti, as Paquillo, not only sings with an elegant tenor voice, but also reinforces his character's many moods with expressive faces including a comical "Duo" with the Viceroy's sidekick (Steve Utzig), an angry "Why am I here in prison" song and the "Love Duet" shared with Perichole in captivity.
In a play of quaint characters is Old Prisoner (Martin Epstein) who frees the lovers after 12 years of scraping through a wall with a small knife. In another comic role, Epstein joins Adam Blackman as two drunken notaries hastily called to marry (as part of the Viceroy plot) Perichole and an unwitting and drunken Paquillo.
If you go ...
What: "La Perichole," a comic opera by Jacquen Offenbach
Where: Tusten Theatre, 210 Bridge St., Narrowsburg
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3, 3 p.m. Aug. 12
Tickets: $25, $22 senior citizens, $15 age 12 and younger