Thursday, January 18, 2018
Features and More

Opera Tampa tenor savors debut moment and chance to work with veteran maestro

By John Fleming

Times Performing Arts Critic

For tenor Scott Piper, it is going to be a special moment Friday when he cakes his face with greasepaint and sings the famous tears-of-a-clown aria, Vesti la giubba, in Pagliacci.

Piper is making his debut in the role of Canio with Opera Tampa's production of the Leoncavallo opera, with conductor Anton Coppola in the orchestra pit.

"Nothing is ever going to replace opening night for me, and particularly that aria," Piper said last week after an afternoon rehearsal. "To be able to finally have the opportunity to sing that aria for a live audience in performance with a musician like maestro Coppola in the pit. That's absolutely going to be one of the highlights of my career."

The clown's aria was a staple of Enrico Caruso and many other tenors. "It's the kind of aria that you listen to as a young tenor and think, 'Oh, my gosh, this is what I hopefully can sing one day,' '' Piper said. "You scream it out in your room when you're just starting out and trying to sing your first high G."

Pagliacci will be paired, as it usually is, with Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana. The two short operas, dubbed Cav and Pag, are exemplars of Italian verismo opera, low-life melodramas that rose up in the late 19th century in response to Wagnerian romanticism. The two recount illicit affairs, jealousy and murder with zesty abandon.

Cav and Pag represents the start of a farewell tour for Coppola, stepping down at the end of this season as conductor and artistic director of Opera Tampa after 17 years. Coppola, who turns 95 in March, has a lifetime of experience in opera to pass along to singers like Piper.

"When I get home at night, I make marks in my score, all those tidbits of information I've picked up from maestro Coppola during rehearsal," the tenor said. "One of the most important things is the musical pacing. I've never seen a conductor who is so aware of the entire arc of the opera. He can be in one spot in the opera and all of a sudden something will come up, and he'll explain how the tempos there relate to tempos elsewhere. In terms of the symmetry of the work, it's so cohesive, it's really amazing."

As is the norm, Piper will sing the principal tenor roles in both operas. Canio is the head of a company of traveling players who learns that his wife, the troupe's ingenue, has a lover and kills her. In Cavalleria Rusticana, he plays Turiddu, a village Lothario who meets his fate on an Easter Sunday in Sicily.

Piper recently made his debut as Turiddu with the Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv. He will be singing the role of Anatol in Samuel Barber's Vanessa with Sarasota Opera in March.

The orchestral intermezzo from Cav should be worth hearing this weekend. It was a motif in Godfather III, the movie in which Coppola appeared to conduct the opera for his nephew, Francis Ford Coppola.

John Fleming can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716.

Comments
Overtourism and safety cited in Fodor’s where-not-to-go list

Overtourism and safety cited in Fodor’s where-not-to-go list

As you contemplate all those "where to go in 2018" lists, here’s a twist: a list of places to avoid in the new year. The where not to go list is from Fodor’s, the travel guidebook publisher. Fodor’s "no list" includes places plagued by overtourism an...
Published: 01/18/18
Shake Shack, Momofuku and more: Please come to Tampa Bay

Shake Shack, Momofuku and more: Please come to Tampa Bay

Fabio is coming! Not the Fabio on your romance novel, with the billowing hair and large quantities of artificial butter. This Fabio, in all likelihood, uses real butter. And olive oil. Fabio Viviani, the charming Top Chef alum known for appearances...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

LA SEGUNDAA Tampa Bay giant has stirred and is on the move. La Segunda Central Bakery, a family-owned Ybor City institution for nearly 103 years (they celebrated that birthday Jan. 15) and the largest producer of Cuban bread in the world, will open a...
Published: 01/17/18
Shake Shack inches closer to Tampa Bay with new Florida restaurant

Shake Shack inches closer to Tampa Bay with new Florida restaurant

Beloved burger restaurant Shake Shack, which once inspired hungry diners to wait in hours-long lines at New York's Madison Square Park before expanding with dozens of locations across the U.S., is inching closer to Tampa Bay. A lease agreement  with...
Published: 01/17/18
Florida teen is begging Taylor Swift to take him to prom

Florida teen is begging Taylor Swift to take him to prom

A Bradenton teenager isn’t hoping to take just anyone to his senior prom — he’s set his sights high.Dayton Modderman, a senior at Bradenton Christian School, is getting attention across the web for making a prom-posal video asking Taylor Swift to be ...
Published: 01/17/18
What’s on stage this week: Riverdance, ‘Mike Hammer,’ ‘The Tempest’

What’s on stage this week: Riverdance, ‘Mike Hammer,’ ‘The Tempest’

RIVERDANCE AT 20: CIARA SEXTONShe’s a former world champion in Irish dance, and now Ciara Sexton, center, is leading Riverdance in Tampa. A lead dancer and soloist with the troupe, Sexton said she has felt comfortable touring the states."What really ...
Published: 01/17/18
Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

It’s barely been a year since Steve Martin and Martin Short last brought their roadshow to town. But there was never a doubt in their minds they’d be back."We thought — and I seriously mean this — we’ve got to play Florida more." Martin said in a pho...
Published: 01/17/18
Healthful eating is just a one-pan fish dish away

Healthful eating is just a one-pan fish dish away

By Ellie KriegerI recoil at the repentant food chatter that crops up this time of year, dominated by words such as "cleanse" and "detox," which, from what I can tell, are just modern code for "extreme diet." But part of cultivating a healthy, balanc...
Published: 01/17/18
We tried eating the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables for a week, and it was harder than we thought

We tried eating the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables for a week, and it was harder than we thought

I sat at my desk eating chunked pineapple straight out of the can, reading about how much fruit and vegetables we should all be eating every day: 1 1/2 to two cups of fruit, 2 1/2 to three cups of vegetables, at a minimum, per the United States Depar...
Published: 01/17/18
Hometown Hernando for Jan. 19

Hometown Hernando for Jan. 19

We want your news!Hometown Hernando is devoted to everyday life in our county, whether it’s snapshots from your family reunion, recreational sporting event, news from your last club meeting or just a few lines thanking someone for a job well done. Yo...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18