REVIEWS

Il mondo della luna

Jan 19, 2010

New York Post

James Jorden

IN space, no one can hear you scream — but in a planetarium, everyone can hear you sing.

The Gotham Chamber Opera proved as much Tuesday night, performing Haydn’s 1777 comic opera "Il mondo della luna" ("The World on the Moon") at the Hayden Planetarium.

The American Museum of Natural History’s domed auditorium proved an acoustically friendly opera house for an opening-night crowd that ran from socialites (Joan Sarnoff) to rockers (Lou Reed).

The farcical plot of this single-act piece concerns overprotective father Buonafede, who won’t let his daughters marry their true loves. An astrologer boyfriend of one of the girls convinces the old man that he’s landed on the moon, where everything is topsy-turvy: Servants are kings, women propose to men, and — at least in this production — everybody dresses like Lady Gaga.

Director Diane Paulus, who helmed the hit revival of "Hair," takes her cue from the hallucinogenic potion given to Buonafede, evoking the fake moonscape as a ’60s disco complete with glittery mimes, luminescent costumes and trippy projections on the planetarium dome. In a minuscule performing area, she creates a sense of boundless space by balancing the singers on rolling ladders kept constantly in motion.

The slight but tuneful score is trimmed to about 90 minutes by conductor Neal Goren, who deftly coordinated the 25-piece orchestra and soloists from a perch high above the stage.

The gem of the score, the haunting aria "Quanta gente che sospira," went to the most stylish singer, lyric soprano Hanan Alattar. As the credulous Buonafede, baritone Marco Nisticò babbled his patter songs and moonwalked with equal flair.

Soprano Albina Shagimuratova, scheduled for a Met debut this year in "The Magic Flute," threw herself into the girl-group choreography accompanying her "Ragion nell’alma siede," leaving her a bit winded for some of the aria’s difficult coloratura.

As the astrologer Ecclitico, Nicholas Coppolo spun out a suave tenor and rocked his spangled platform shoes as if he’d coached with Elton John.