|Lindsay Ohse | Photo by Cory Weaver/Portland Opera|
Well, those facts provided an intriguing preface to Portland Opera’s presentation of La finta giardiniera on July 12 at the Newmark Theatre. The company made the most of its first-ever performance of this early Mozart work, delivering an engaging and charming new production under the direction of Chas Rader-Shieber.
|Mark Thomsen, Helen Huang, Thomas Cilluffo, and Antonia Tamer | Photo by Cory Weaver/Portland Opera|
Lindsay Ohse glowed in the role of Sandrina, wonderfully conveying the turbulent emotions of a woman who sought refuge from her abusive lover, then after a period of “madness” falls in love with him. Thomas Cilluffo created a smug, amiable, yet slightly clueless Belfiore, singing with virility and charm while raking in the laughs. As Arminda, Antonia Tamer, convincingly preened and pouted, generating ample amounts of laughter yet managed to stiff arm her former lover. Mark Thomsen fashioned a suave and avuncular Podesta, but his voice was underpowered.
|Geoffrey Schellenberg and Helen Huang| Photo by Cory Weaver/Portland Opera|
|Mark Thomsen and Camille Sherman | Photo by Cory Weaver/Portland Opera|
Playing the harpsicord and conducting, George Manahan guided the orchestra in a polished performance that overcame the dry acoustic of the hall.
At the end of the opera, Sandrina and Belfiore regain their sanity and fall in love, but the other pairings don’t work out. So, Ramiro and Arminda did not reunite, and Serpetta and Nardo remained separate entities. That outcome was a twist on the original score and worked, but left a slightly sour taste.