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Hamptons Theater Review: The World Premiere Of "Rival Queens" Is A Success

T.J. Clemente

Mezzo-soprano Anna Tonna as Queen Elizabeth I. (Photo: Courtesy of Divaria Productions)

Hosted by Bay Street Theater, the virtual world premiere of Divaria Productions' original biopic opera Rival Queens - that tells the story of Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I - was a total success. The production, a one-hour film, featured mezzo-soprano Anna Tonna as Queen Elizabeth I, Ashley Galvani Bell as Mary Queen of Scots, Michal Gizinski as Narrator, and tenor Andrew Owens as Leicester. The film is directed by Anton Armedariz Diaz and musically directed by Sergio Martinez Zangroniz.

When you watch this production, you go back centuries in time; you go behind closed doors and you go inside people's minds as they think, read and write. Then the powers of the voices of Ashley Galvani Bell and Anna Tonna capture you. It's a total success. Accolades also to Michal Gizinski as Narrator, and tenor Andrew Owens as Leicester - they are splendid.

The ornate period costumes added so much to the production. In the film, little things like proper makeup are most important on close up scenes, and again, the makeup was so natural you did not even realize anyone was wearing any.

Anton Armedariz Diaz is to commend for his imaginative direction, especially since he did it from Spain via the internet. I felt a certain flair, no doubt from his seasoned touches to the production.

Rival Queens features music from Donizetti's opera Maria Stuarda with English subtitles, which helps those like me not so fluid in foreign languages. The production is both a virtual presentation and movie. The singing is clear, passionately explosive while also gentle and soulful. I truly enjoyed the segments of the reading and the composing of the letters between the two rival queens. There was a genuine connection and magic to hearing the words the two queens actually wrote, composed and presented to each other. The filming and background music during these episodes is spectacular.

There is no denying opera singing is best live in a big open space, yet somehow Rival Queens captures the magic of the talents of both Ashley Galvani Bell and Anna Tonna. The production of Rival Queens is able to get their dynamic and powerful voices to come through your device's sound system almost equal to live. Kudos to Sergio Martinez Zangroniz.

The show is fluid despite the fact that it was created and prepared on an intercontinental basis featuring a director, pianist, and actors located in Spain; a writer, soprano, mezzo-soprano and film crew in New York; a narrator from San Francisco; and a tenor in Chicago.

Ashley Galvani Bell is becoming a creative and performing force of nature. Not to downplay the brilliance of Anna Tonna - who I am now a big fan of. Galvani Bell has a certain spell creating talent that lifts every production she is in. To think this project was first created for the Bay Street Stage, but then was written and produced to be a successful movie that Galvani Bell stars in is just astonishing. To say more great things will be coming from Ashley Galvani Bell and her Divaria Productions is an understatement.

Rival Queens will make its European premiere with Divaria Productions partner Sergej Producciones via the Scenikus Platform on Sunday, November 22.

For more information about Rival Queens, visit www.divariaproductions.com.

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