Giovanni Is Not Afraid

Lilah Gosman, a soprano, and Mark Singer, a baritone, will be two of the performers featured in “Giovanni the Fearless,” a musical reading in Montauk.

    A concert reading of “Giovanni the Fearless,” a new musical by the composer Mira J. Spektor and the lyricist Carolyn Balducci based on a classic Italian folk tale, will take place at the Montauk Library on Saturday evening at 7:30.
    The cast includes Mark Singer in the baritone role of Jacopo; the soprano Lilah Gosman as Colombina, Dory Schultz singing the lead tenor role of Giovanni, Dominique Grelsamer in the soprano role of Adelina, and the bass Bill Krakauer as the Narrator and the Ghost. Gary Swanson is the director and Barbara Ames is the pianist and musical director.
    The humorous, romantic tale involves the Bombasto Theatrical Troupe, an itinerant group of eccentric actors and singers who encounter Giovanni in their travels. There’s a practical joke about a buried treasure in a haunted castle, a Giant Ghost in the form of a puppet, a Real Ghost, the moonstruck Colombina, a broken curse, a tree bearing coins and precious jewels, and, in the end, all living happily ever after.
    The musical is in the style of a commedia dell’arte, sometimes known as Italian comedy or comedy of craft, a kind of 16th-century presentation performed by professional players who traveled throughout Italy doing improvisational theater on temporary stages. “Giovanni the Fearless” is a somewhat more modern version, and, according to a release, is “infused with its tradition of the improvisational nonrealistic style of acting.”
    “It is meant as a family show, like ‘The Fantasticks,’ ” Ms. Spektor said last week. Commedia dell’arte was also an influence on that longest-running Broadway play. She pointed out that Saturday’s accompaniment will include only a piano; “The Fantasticks” originally had only piano and harp.
    Ms. Balducci, when asked how she came to choose this fable to work with, said, “As a child, I always liked folklore.” Later in life, “I needed to know more about my heritage and the language of my father and husband,” who is a professor of Italian at the State University at Stony Brook, and this led to her reading many anthologies and becoming familiar with the tale.
    In its concert version, the performance, which is free, will include all 17 songs and most of the dialogue, but without full staging or props. It has been slightly edited for five actors and a smaller stage.
    This will be the second performance of “Giovanni the Fearless.” In October, a similar production was presented by the Dramatists’ Guild in Manhattan. The playwright and theater critic Mario Fratti wrote in America Oggi, an Italian-language newspaper, that the production was “well structured, poetic, moving in its originality and sensibility.” Ms. Balducci’s lyrics were “direct and clear,” he said, and Ms. Spektor’s music was “melodic and stimulating.”
    This is the first time the two have worked together. They came to know each other over a period of time as Ms. Balducci, the program director of the Montauk Library, presented the Aviva Players, of which Ms. Spektor is the artistic director, as well as some of her other music. “We’ve had a great time working together,” Ms. Spektor said of their recent collaboration.
    Ms. Spektor, who has a house in East Hampton, has written other musicals and chamber operas, including “The Housewives’ Cantata,” “Lady of the Castle,” “The Passion of Lizzie Borden,” and “Villa Diodati.” She also wrote the musical score for the film “Double Edge,” which starred Faye Dunaway, and for the documentary “Arts in Its Soul,” seen on PBS.
    Ms. Balducci’s published works include biographies of Grazia Daledda, a Nobel Prize laureate, and the American transcendentalist Margaret Fuller, and the novels “Is There a Life After Graduation, Henry Birnbaum?” and “Earwax.”
    In addition to the composer and lyricist, four others in the production have South Fork connections. Ms. Gosman is a native of Montauk and has appeared with the Annapolis Symphony and the Aspen and Tanglewood music festivals. Ms. Grelsamer, whose family has a house in East Hampton, has sung with the OperaWorks Emerging Artist Program and the Bel Canto Institute; she will attend New York University in the fall. Mr. Swanson co-produced and played the lead role in a feature film, “Whiskey School,” and founded the Montauk Group, an acting workshop and summer residency program, and Ms. Ames, who was recently affiliated with Stages, a Children’s Theater Workshop in East Hampton, is also the director of the junior and intermediate choruses at Mannes College The New School for Music preparatory division.
    Of those who will be new to the East End audience, Mr. Singer is the lead baritone of New York’s Magic Opera Circle Repertory Ensemble and founder of the Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Mountaintop Celebration of Song. Mr. Schultz has recently sung the roles of Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” and Gastone in “La Traviata,” and Mr. Krakauer was recently seen in an episode of “Life With Louie” on Fox TV and will soon appear a the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival.
    “Giovanni the Fearless” has been selected by the League of Professional Theatre Women as part of its yearlong “30 Plays” program, honoring the league’s 30th anniversary.