By Jeanine Russaw Staff Writer
Hofstra Opera Theatre showcased a group of 31 select students in the comedic opera Princess Ida, a satire of the feminism movement by W.S. Gilbert, on February 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
Directed by Isabel Milenski, the performance utilized the individual talents of the performers to bring radiance to the stage. Dr. David Ramel conducted 21 Hofstra student musicians in the orchestra that accompanied the cast. Together they brought new meaning to the words painted on the set: “In all things we excel.”
The orchestra received applause upon entering, which became a foreshadowing of their brilliant performance to follow. The opera’s opening number led into flawless musical accompaniment; and the group did not miss a single beat as the show proceeded.
Both Jacqueline Murphy and Rachel Blaustein garnered audience approval as true standouts for their vocal abilities. The highest note in the show, sung in “Defiance” at the end of the second act, was chill inducing, and the thunderous applause from the audience made it clear that they were eager for more.
Considering the theme of the opera, it’s only fitting that the males of the show be mentioned. Of course they gave a comparable performance. The comedic timings of Christopher Remkus (Hilarion), Anthony DiTaranto (Cyril), and Joseph Brigandi (Florian) were not lost on anyone in attendance.
New York-based set designer Jian Jung cleverly executed the production of a set that displayed the contrasted superiority of females’ lifestyle over males’—which of course was refuted by the cast performance.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the evening’s entertainment was the way in which the cast truly became one with their roles. One might think there is a high degree of difficulty in playing “pre-historic” characters undergoing the process of becoming civilized on the brink of a war between the sexes (and not missing a comedic beat), and they’d be right. Yet, this group of performers did just that, and executed the theme perfectly.
On the whole, the piece was an interesting choice for Hofstra Opera Theatre, but bold is good. Especially when an obviously dedicated group of people unites to pay tribute to a historic tale such as Princess Ida.
For Milenski and these 55-plus Hofstra students (including the crew and orchestra), congratulations are certainly in order.