By BILL ZAKARIASEN|
Daily News Music Critic
TWO WORKS BY noted contemporary American composers received their New York area premieres this weekend. On Friday, the Kurt P. Reimann Opera Studio presented David Amram's "Twelfth Night" in the New York University Theater, and on Saturday, the opening concert of the Caramoor Festival's 41st season featured "Harmonienlehre" by John Adams.
"Twelfth Night" which received its world premiere it the Lake George Festival in 1968, is of course based on William Shakespeare's comedy of the same name, which has been cleverly revised into a fast-moving libretto by none other than Joseph Papp. For much of the first act (the opera condenses Shakespeare's five acts into two) Amram shows remarkable skill in ensemble writing, thematic development and musical characterization. Moreover, throughout the score, Amram lets the singers' vocal lines - and most importantly, their words - be heard to optimum effect. He also shows a sure hand in orchestration - a fact not betrayed by the small (yet mainly expert) instrumental ensemble that was used.
The performance - presumably well conducted by the composer himself - was gratifyingly spirited, though some artists were better equipped dramatically than vocally. The best singing came from Keith Lynch (Duke Orsino), Lorraine DiSimone (Viola, who spends most of the time disguised as a young man), Anna McHenna (Maria), Kelly Widmer (Olivia) and Dennis English (Antonio).
But Aalan Kobritz (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), David }Kellet (the jester Feste) and Robert Falk (Sir Toby Belch) turned in delightful in interpretations none the less, while wry-faced Vashek Pazhdera proved an accomplished scene-stealer as the befuddled Malvolio. Gerald Teijelo's stage direction moved well, while the unit set by Stephen Palestrant and the costumes of Mary Marsicane were nicely in Elizabethan period.