Blythe spirit

By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  May 17, 2010

Martin Perlman led a buoyant Haffner and a grand Clemenza di Tito Overture on period instruments at a Boston Baroque Mozart evening featuring male soprano Michael Maniaci, whose impressive flexibility and high notes won cheers. But Maniaci can’t seem to vary his monochromatic vocal color (is this physiological?) or phrasing, and though he looked more pained, his conflicted anguish in Sesto’s aria from Clemenza sounded indistinguishable from the ecstasy of Exsultate, jubilate.

A superb cast and brilliant orchestra under music director Matt Stern enlivened BU’s brave production of Stephen Sondheim’s darkly personal (undeserved) flop, Merrily We Roll Along, a bitter musical about compromises — based on a Kaufman & Hart play — that runs chronologically backwards, and whose ending is both happy and heartbreaking because we finally see the source of the idealism that precedes all the disappointments and betrayals that come later — I mean, earlier.

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