Irish composer Andrew Synnott’s La Cucina (The Kitchen) makes its world premiere on Wexford’s main stage, with a libretto by the event’s artistic director designate Rosetta Cucchi, who takes up her post next season.
This one-act divertissement is set in the fraught kitchen where an upmarket wedding cake is being made, with temperamental chef Alberto (actor Luca Nucera), having suffered a high-profile baking disaster in the past, throwing tantrums.
It’s a lightweight piece that serves as an upbeat to the second half of the evening, when the cake – suitably enlarged – becomes the set for Rossini’s 1826 farce Adina, which aptly ends with a wedding.
Synnott’s score is marvellous – a witty and accomplished piece of writing that owes something to Puccini (admittedly a rather outdated influence), and which is unfailingly entertaining, as is Cucchi’s production.
Her touch is rather heavier in the second half, where an overbusy staging gets in the way of a slight score by Rossini that is well sung by the cast – many of whom take part in both operas.
The second piece, Adina is something of a frippery, unlikely to gain a place in the repertoire after nearly 200 years of neglect, but worth at least one encounter. Shining in the leading roles of this multicultural romp are fluent soprano Rachel Kelly (Adina), agile tenor Levy Sekgapane (Selimo) and patrician Daniele Antonangeli (the Caliph).
It passes 80 minutes perfectly pleasantly: but of the two it’s Synnott’s score that is the more memorable. In both instances, conductor Michele Spotti keeps things nicely on the move.