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Atlanta Opera presents ‘The Italian Girl in Algiers’
by Caroline Young
May 01, 2013 12:14 PM | 2703 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special Photo / Jeff Roffman<br>
The Algerian master Mustafà, right, played by Burak Bilgili, sings of being the greatest person to ever exist to his captain at service Haly, left, played by Frederick Jackson.
Special Photo / Jeff Roffman
The Algerian master Mustafà, right, played by Burak Bilgili, sings of being the greatest person to ever exist to his captain at service Haly, left, played by Frederick Jackson.
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When I think of the opera, I usually envision a heart-wrenching plot, a tragic death and plenty of drama.

But this week I got the opportunity to experience my first comedic opera, “The Italian Girl in Algiers,” at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre near Vinings. While it is still a love story, there is no bloodshed or tears to be seen.

Cleverly set in a 1930s pop-up book, in which there sits a seaside palace in Algiers, the story begins with a quarrel between the master Mustafà, played by Burak Bilgili, and his desperate wife, Elvira, played by Ashley Emerson, who is devastated because he no longer loves her.

He tells her to leave and tells Haly, a captain at his service, to find him a beautiful Italian woman… or else.

“In a nutshell, the theme is the grass is not always greener on the other side,” said Frederick Jackson, an Atlanta native who plays Haly. “Mustafà wants something different. When he gets this Italian girl, she wreaks havoc for him.”

Mustafà’s ego gets the best of him. And as I watched Isabella, the seductive blonde Italian woman played by Sandra Piques Eddy, turn Mustafa into a pathetic man, I agreed with Jackson’s meaning behind the story.

Simultaneously, the fierce Isabella pursues the love of her life Taddeo, played by Bruno Praticò. But another clear and humorous message delivered to the audience is, “Women always get what they want,” which was one of my favorite aspects of the story — perhaps because I am a woman myself. In all seriousness, my favorite part of the show is the vibrancy — of music, color, costumes and of each character’s personality.

“The Italian Girl in Algiers” is an instant mood-lifter. “It’s all about a reflection of life, and it’s an escape. It’s therapeutic to go and laugh,” Jackson said. “I think that’s what music is for, what art is for, … to take people on an emotional journey.”

The opera, which is directed by Helena Binder, begins with one of the most outstanding and entrancing overtures I have experienced, conducted by Music Director and Conductor Arthur Fagan, and written by the late Italian composer, Gioachino Rossini.

And it is classically and beautifully sung in Italian, and fortunately, English subtitles helped me to fully understand each step of the performance.

In my opinion, “The Italian Girl in Algiers” is a must-see for anyone looking for some comic relief this weekend.

If you go:

o What: “The Italian Girl in Algiers”

o When: Friday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

o Where: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Pkwy., near Vinings

o Information: www.atlantaopera.org
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