COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — * The most successful of the Glimmerglass productions I saw this year was Keith Warner's staging of Rossini's "Le Comte Ory," sung in French by a proficient cast. The opera was quasi-updated with costumes from the period and some modern dress, and was rendered in fairly high-farce style. On the whole, it moved sleekly on John Conklin's gorgeous sets, was often riotously amusing, and only occasionally ran into overdrive or vulgarity. In the pit, Daniel Beckwith kept the musical pace propulsive and bright.
As Ory, Paul Austin Kelly managed the role - with its taxing high range - skillfully. As the Countess Adele, Lyndy Simons comported herself with ease, despite a stressed singing style. Emily Golden was a perky Isolier; David Evitts and Philip Cokorinos shone as Raimbaud and the Tutor, respectively.
I had already heard David Carlson's "The Midnight Angel" in its Opera Theatre of St. Louis world-premiere run (reviewed in the Monitor June 18). At Glimmerglass, with the same excellent cast and production, I found the piece more engaging, more fleet of construction, than I had remembered. In a proper orchestra pit, Carlson's genuine gift for orchestration became vividly apparent, especially as conducted by Stewart Robertson.
Martha Clarke's production of Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte" proved deeply disappointing. The handsomely costumed cast appeared utterly adrift on Robert Israel's gray-wall set (for this irresistible multihued score). Only Clare Gormley's overwrought Despina had life. Paul Groves, the Ferrando, may be an important Mozart tenor in the making, but he and his colleagues needed far more help on stage and in the pit, where Ransom Wilson presided only dutifully.
Because I caught only the piano dress rehearsal of Jules Massenet's "Werther," I can observe only that Mark Lamos's touches have all the makings of an exceptional evening in the operatic theater - a provocative concept, strong cast, stunning sets (Conklin) and poetic, even haunting, lighting (Robert Wierzel).
The Glimmerglass Opera season closes Aug. 16.