APRILE MILLO IN VERISMO RARITY

Manhattan’s fall opera season is enriched yearly by the regularly impressive concerts given by Duane Printz’s Teatro Grattacielo. Printz has devoted herself to giving idiomatically authentic hearings to lesser-known works of the Italian verismo school, the realistic movement ushered in by Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria rusticana” in 1890. There’s a whole world of romantic, melodic pieces out there beyond “Bohème” and “Butterfly,” some of them quite popular in the early decades of the 20th century.

One such is Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s “Zazá,” created in 1900 by the first Butterfly, Rosina Storchio under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. The role of a glamorous French music hall diva who, upon learning that her lover is married, leaves him also made a famous vehicle for the Met’s flapper-era “It” girl, Geraldine Farrar.

New York may not have heard the piece since Farrar retired in 1922. Teatro Grattacielo is supplying deluxe casting. Aprile Millo, seemingly the last link to the great veristas of the past, has triumphed in recent seasons as Puccini’s Tosca and Minnie, and the flamboyant, stylistically assured soprano’s participation alone should cause a sold-out house. She’ll get first-rate support from two City Opera stars who’ve won international recognition—tenor Gerald Powers and dramatic mezzo Eugenie Grunewald. Maestro Alfredo Silipigni’s presence on the podium also ensures an idiomatic mastery rare in today’s all-too homogenized operatic world. Don’t miss the passion and shouts of “Brava!”

–David Shengold

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