The Light In The Piazza
Los Angeles Review by Willard Manus

Thanks to the star power of Renee Fleming and to a story that kept building in power and complexity, THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA overcame its musical-theatre limitations and took on operatic proportions in its recent L.A. Opera production at the Music Center.

photo: Craig T. Matthew
First a novel by Elizabeth Spencer, then a motion picture, then a Broadway musical, THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA has been on quite a journey, one which has culminated in a production by a major opera company.

Fleming stars as Margaret Johnson, a prim and proper midwest matron, who is traveling in Italy with her 26-year-old daughter Clara (Dove Cameron). Clara looks like a classic ingenue: she's blonde, sweet and innocent--but is also mentally challenged. Kicked in the head by a pony when she was a kid, she suffers from lapses in concentration and understanding, but is more or less "normal" for her age. She is also able to fall in love with Fabrizio (Rob Houchen), a handsome young Italian whose family owns a restaurant in the Florentine piazza where must of the story takes place.

photo: Craig T. Matthew
Their passionate affair becomes the focal point of the story. Margaret opposes it at first, believing that Dove isn't mature enough to trust her emotions. But when Dove declares her independence by announcing that she intends to marry Fabrizio, Margaret must rethink everything she has ever believed about her daughter.

Further obstacles to the marriage arise when Fabrizio's father, Signor Naccarelli (Brian Stokes Mitchel) and his sister Franca Naccarelli (Celinde Schoenmaker), discover the flaws in Clara's character and try to cancel the nuptials.

THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA comes down strongly on the side of diversity in life--and the right for everyone, even those who are "mentally impaired," to love who they please.

With its rapturous music and complex, sophisticated lyrics (and scintillating performances), THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA turned out to be a moving and impressive evening of opera.

Next up at L.A. Opera will be an inventive and delightful new production of Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE. It will be unveiled at the Music Center on Nov. 16-December 15. Recently performed by Komische Oper Berlin, with soprano So Young Park repeating her breathtaking performance as Queen of the Night, THE MAGIC FLUTE comes to L.A. with hand-drawn animation by Paul Barritt and direction by Susan Andrade and Barrie Kosky. The sprightly scenery and costumes have been designed by Esther Bialas.

photo: Robert Millard

James Conlon (Nov. 16-Dec. 1) and Grant Gershon (Dec. 12-15) will conduct a cast that includes Zuzana Markova, Bogdan Volkov, Theo Hoffman and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo.

To watch and listen to excerpts from this opera visit
For tickets and information call 213-972-8001 or go to