Bastianello & Lucrezia





Composed by JOHN MUSTO

libretto by MARK CAMPBELL




libretto by MARK CAMPBELL


“They are serious and well-crafted little works, appealing directly to opera’s sense of timelessness . . . well-written contemporary music that people are going to like. Catherine Martin [offered] a big, warm mezzo as the young bride and in various other parts, and Erin Sanzero an assured high soprano as the mother-in-law.” – Anne Midgette, The Washington Post
Click here to read the full review

“Beautifully sung, hilariously acted, perfectly directed, brilliantly composed (John Musto for Bastianello and William Bolcom for Lucrezia, cleverly written (both by Mark Campbell)- these are just some of the ways to describe Urban Arias’ production of Bastianello & Lucrezia.” – Brennan Jones, DCMetroTheaterArts
Click here to read the full review

“Five seasoned performers play multiple and varied roles. UrbanArias is known for their fresh, witty, and often crazy takes on opera. Everything is short, contemporary, and sung in English. . . Bastianello and Lucrezia are uproariously funny. . . The music by vocal composers Musto and Bolcom is accessible, tonal, and tuneful. . . I can’t remember the last time I saw opera more refreshing, hilarious, and interesting. Oh yeah, it was the last time I saw an UrbanArias production.” – Rebecca Evans, DCTheatreScene

Images by Teresa Castracane Photography








Music by John Musto, Libretto by Mark Campbell

Bastianello is a modern take on an Italian folktale. A bride accidentally empties a cask of wine on the floor, and the groom comes up with an unusual punishment: he leaves her, vowing not to return until he’s found six people who are greater fools than she is. This 40-minute opera will remind you not to spill a drink at a wedding (or ever!).

Mark Campbell and John Musto’s BASTIANELLO is, on the surface, an opera about marriage; every episode shows us different stages of married life, mostly in tatters. But the deeper significance of the piece lies in its interplay of humor and melancholy. The plot is launched when Amadora, on her wedding day, goes downstairs to bring up more wine for her celebratory dinner.  Once she has opened the cask of wine, her elation turns to bleak depression as she realizes that this is the happiest moment of her life – and that everything will henceforth go downhill (while singing one of Musto’s funniest blues melodies).  Soon her whole family is in tears next to a now-empty wine cask; when her new husband Luciano finds them, he explodes in rage and deserts his wife on their wedding night. He will only return after he finds six people as foolish as his family.  Every episode in the opera plays with this principle of yin and yang.  But make no mistake about it: BASTIANELLO is first and foremost a comedy, filled with goofy slapstick humor (including a man who can’t figure out how to put on his pants) – and capped by a happy ending.

Bastianello the Younger/Lambent (a horse) – Alex Mansoori

Luciano, a victim of Italian male pride – Tom Corbeil

Bastianello the Elder/Frediano/Ippolito – Keith Phares

Amadora, Luciano’s bride/Stelladora – Catherine Martin

Ortensia/Ettalina/Eustacia – Erin Sanzero


Listen to tenor Paul Appleby sing the opening of BASTIANELLO, with pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier:




Music by William Bolcom, Libretto by Mark Campbell

Lucrezia’s husband needs an heir, and he wants her to commit a mortal sin to produce a child. Will she put her eternal soul in jeopardy? Only if she gets something really good out of the bargain . . . based on a play by Machiavelli.

LUCREZIA is a perfect farce, with a delightful, melodic and captivating score by William Bolcom. Bolcom has written the opera in Romantic Zarzuela style – full of infectious Latin dance rhythms, and melodic embellishments redolent of Carmen. Campbell’s libretto re-imagines Machiavelli’s play for the modern era: Lucrezia, the heroine, is in charge of the intrigue from start to finish. She sees Lorenzo, a handsome young man, from her balcony on morning; bored with her marriage to an impotent blowhard who wants an heir, she drops a rose in Lorenzo’s path. He dutifully takes the hint, and engages the factotum Chucho (think Figaro) to help him win his way into Lucrezia’s bed, by way of a convoluted plan that requires Lorenzo to dress up first as a German doctor and then a priest, and to come up with a magic potion (“any liquid in a vial” says Chucho). After many machinations, Lucrezia’s husband has his heir on the way . . . and Lucrezia has schemed her way to a much more interesting marriage.

Chucho (a facilitator) – Tom Corbeil

Lorenzo (an inamorato of Lucrezia) – Alex Mansoori

Lucrezia (a woman of great intelligence, pragmatic about her sexuality) – Catherine Martin

Ignacio (a lawyer, pedant and fool; Lucrezia’s husband) – Keith Phares

Annunciata (Lucrezia’s pious mother) – Erin Sanzero


Sasha Cooke and Lisa Vroman sing a duet from LUCREZIA below, with pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier:



Catherine Martin, Keith Phares,

Erin Sanzero, Alex Mansoori and Tom Corbeil!

Conducted by Robert Wood

Directed by Alan Paul

Set Design by Andrew Cohen

Costume Design by Sydney Gallas

Lighting Design by Klyph Stanford

with pianists R. Timothy McReynolds and David Hanlon