Ricardo Tamura Triumphs in Cavalleria Rusticana at The Metropolitan Opera
A review by Nino Pantano
On the evening of Tuesday, February 23rd, the promising Brazilian tenor
Ricardo Tamura added Turiddu in Pietro Mascagni’s one act masterpiece
Cavalleria Rusticana to his list of Metropolitan Opera roles. Cavalleria
Rusticana had its premiere in 1890 and is usually paired with Leoncavallo’s
Pagliacci, both verismo (flesh and blood) works. The Metropolitan Opera was
the first company to perform Cavalleria and Pagliacci together on December
22,1893. Cavelleria Rusticana was also performed with the Metropolitan Opera
(Met) on tour at the old Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on March 8, 1892.
The role of Turiddu has been sung by many of the great tenors and is coveted
for its passionate duets and solos. It is Easter Sunday and Turiddu, a
Sicilian soldier is in love with Lola but when he goes off to war, Lola
marries the village carter Alfio. Turiddu then turns his passions toward
Santuzza who was excommunicated from the church. Lola makes overtures to
Turiddu and their love rekindles. Santuzza tells Turiddu’s mother, then
confronts Turiddu, they argue and with Lola in sight beckoning, Santuzza
runs off and tells Alfio. Alfio in a rage, swears vengeance after
confronting Turiddu drinking with friends in Mamma Lucia's tavern. Turiddu
sings a tearful farewell to his mother and shortly thereafter, a screaming
villager shrieks that Turiddu has been killed. Santuzza stares straight
ahead as all the grieving villagers turn their backs to her and help his
The offstage serenade from Turiddu “O Lola c'hai di latti la cammisa” was
sung with ringing tone and Italianate flair by Ricardo Tamura. This aria in
white heat sung offstage is a challenge to sing.
Riccardo Tamura sang with passion, flair and well placed high notes. His
declamatory utterance and rich middle voice evoked memories of the Italian
greats -Beniamino Gigli comes to mind, “Tu qui Santuzza?” and the ensuing
gripping duet indicated Turiddu’s frustration and his determination to find
a balance to his dilemma. Tamura’s singing of “Intanto amici; Viva il vino
spumeggiante” was brilliant, grand and generous right up to a dazzling high
note. His confrontation with Alfio was white hot and one knows despite his
words he will fight for what he wants! Tamura’s full throated “Addio a la
madre” was sung with pathos, desperation and resignation with a beautifully
Santuzza was sung by Liudmyla Monastyrska whose powerful soprano is a force
of nature. Her singing of “Voi lo sapete mamma” was a tour de force and a
little tapering and a bit of color would have placed her on the list of
great Santuzza’s. The Regina Coeli was powerfully sung but was stripped of
its poignant majesty by its lack of religious spectacle. Her “Turiddu
ascolta!” and their duet were among the vocal high points of the evening.
Ambroglio Maestri was a gruff no nonsense Alfio. His “Il cavallo scalpita”
was sung with brio and pride. Maestri's singing in the duet with Santuzza, “
Infami loro, ad essi non perdono, vendetta avro” was fury and volcanic
angst, his baritone barometer exploding in rage.
Lola was in the youthful and attractive persona of mezzo Ginger
Costa-Jackson. Her singing of “Fior di giaggiolo” had its lure and appeal.
The production however gave us not a hint of sluttiness and spite.
The vivid Mamma Lucia of mezzo Jane Bunnell was rich voiced and not quite as
naïve as one would think.
Andrea Coleman as the screaming woman handled “Hanno ammazzato compare
Turiddu!” with eardrum piercing perfection.
The fabulous Fabio Luisi, principal maestro conducted with authority,
intensity and inspiration. Luisi's hobby is making perfumes and his various
fragrances also seem to be part of his extraordinary blends of harmony in
his music making. The Intermezzo was truly the heavenly calm before the storm.
Chorus master Donald Palumbo led the singers gloriously, especially the
Regina Coeli and “Gli aranci olezzano.” All the singers were very well
With the splendid Turiddu of Ricardo Tamura, it was a good night of opera.
Tamura as a student, wanted to be a scientist. Singing prevailed and his
career took off like a rocket! The great soprano Licia Albanese heard him
sing and with the assistance of the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation
started his ascent.
The sets and costumes were drab beyond belief; the singing cast gave us
Sicily in their passion and dedication to the story but the black costumes,
dismal rows of musical chairs and peasant dancing evoked Fiddler on the
Roof. Not an orange tree could be seen and Sicily at Easter time got lost in
the shuffle. The singers provided all the colors of Sicily in their vivid