Monday, January 9, 2011:Fun at the Opera

Center: WeiLong Tao, Zdeněk Plech, Jakub Pustina in The Three Pintos

Fun at the Opera

If you missed the premiere of the comic opera Tří Pintové (The Three Pintos), don’t worry. You still have a chance to catch this slightly surreal, highly amusing farce presented on the Czech National Opera stage (at the State Opera House).

But what does this little-known opera have to do with pinto beans? English-speakers may ask.

The answer is: nothing.

Pinto refers to Don Pinto de Fonseca, the uneducated, rough and somewhat stupid son of a rural landowner. He’s been promised in marriage to a beautiful young, wealthy city woman – Donna Clarissa — whom he’s never seen.

On his way from the farm to the city, Pinto stops off at a country inn, where he blabs about his coming fortune to a somewhat rowdy and adventurous recent university graduate, Don Gaston Viratos. Still full of university-prank fervor and vowing to always stay young at heart, Gaston can’t resist pulling a fast one: The wily Gaston fills Pinto full of wine, pinches his letter of introduction, and plans to make a beeline for the prize, the rich, beautiful young Clarissa.

Gomez (Václav Sibera) and Clarissa (Jana Sibera) dream of a life together in Tří Pintové. But will the dream come true?

But of course the ruse isn’t quite that simple. Gaston, now posing as Pinto (No. 2), arrives at Clarissa’s mansion only to discover that the young lady has a mind and heart of her own, and the latter belongs to her true love, Don Gomez de Freiros. (And once he gets that purloined letter of introduction, he will become Pinto No. 3).

Unfortunately, a written plot synopsis can’t give you an idea of how entertaining The Three Pintos is when you see it live. Like a three-ring circus, there’s always something to catch your eye: lots of little visual jokes planted among the main action; amusing, somewhat Dali-like sets by Daniel Dvořák (sports tv for the beer-stein-clanking singers at the inn; Clarissa’s family’s mansion filled with exceedingly huge trinkets); and lush costumes by Simona Rybáková.

A written plot synopsis also can’t replicate the impact of the music and singing, melding together with the light-hearted character of this fun introduction to opera buffa. That’s why you’ll have to go to The Three Pintos and see it for yourself. We saw a superb cast of WeiLong Tao as Gaston, Zdeněk Plech as Pinto, Jana Sibera as Clarissa, and Jakub Pustina singing incredible falsetto as Gaston’s servant Ambrosio.

Tří Pintové, The Three Pintos is performed in German, with very good English and Czech surtitles, and is slated for further performances Jan 17, Feb and March 7, and May 31. — oo

– Mary Matz

Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička

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