Mar 17

Awareness is Key: RIGOLETTO

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Michael Mayes as Rigoletto and Nadine Sierra as Gilda; Photo by Eric Antoniou for Boston Lyric Opera

Michael Mayes as Rigoletto and Nadine Sierra as Gilda; Photo by Eric Antoniou for Boston Lyric Opera

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Directed by Tomer Zvulun
Conducted by Christopher Franklin

March 14 – 23, 2014
Shubert Theatre
Boston, MA
BLO on Facebook

Sung in Italian with projected supertitles in English. Performed in 2 “acts” with 1 intermission.

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) The vocals of BLO’s Rigoletto are simply stunning. In particular, Michael Mayes as the title character and Nadine Sierra (Gilda) were a treasure to hear and watch. Audrey Babcock (Maddalena) smolders! This vocals of the male chorus were powerful but difficult to watch. It appears that they can only emote when given specific direction to do so. The sumptuous costumes by Victoria Tzykun mostly made up for this. Conductor Christopher Franklin leads his orchestra with admirable humility and confidence. His reverence for Verdi is evident from his first step into the pit. Continue reading

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Nov 13

BLO Opera Annex: “Lizzie Borden”

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BOSTON LYRIC OPERA continues the 2013-14 season with its Opera Annex production of Jack Beeson’s riveting masterwork:

LIZZIE BORDEN

Sung in English with projected text
Based on a Scenario by Richard Plant
Composed by Jack Beeson
Libretto by Kenward Elmslie
Realized by Todd Bashore (orchestration) and John Conklin (dramaturgy)
Stage Directed by Christopher Alden
Conducted by David Angus

 

 

FOUR PERFORMANCES ONLY: November 20, 22, 23, 24, 2013
The Castle At Park Plaza
130 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA 02116
The BLO on Facebook

BOSTON (November 6, 2013)—Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) continues its 2013-14 season with a production of Jack Beeson’s operatic masterpiece, Lizzie Borden, for BLO’s Opera Annex series, in a world premiere chamber version in seven scenes, specially commissioned by BLO and directed by the acclaimed Christopher Alden. Running four performances only, November 20-24, Beeson’s riveting opera captures the dramatic, claustrophobic family portrait based on the sensational Fall River, Massachusetts axe murders that gripped the nation in 1892.

Lizzie Andrew Borden was tried and acquitted in the 1892 axe murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts, but here has been controversy ever since about her guilt or innocence. In their opera, composer Jack Beeson and librettist Kenward Elmslie leave no doubt about her murderous culpability, while changing a few details of the well-known story for theatrical reasons. An older sister, Emma, becomes a younger sister, Margret. A suitor for Margret is created, the sea captain Jason McFarlane, and a psychologically convincing backstory for the stepmother, Abbie (her subservient and deeply resented role as a servant-nurse to the dying first Mrs. Borden, Lizzie’s mother) is developed. The Beeson piece was first performed in 1965 as a three act opera.

 

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Jun 07

“The Magic Mirror”: Window Into Another World

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Photo Credit: Scott Bump, Not a photo of a brunette Khaleesi’s wedding. But it could be.

Presented by Juventas New Music Ensemble
Music by Polina Nazaykinskaya
Music direction  by Lidiya Yankovskaya
Stage direction by Erin Huelskamp

BCA Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA
Juventas New Music Ensemble Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) The Magic Mirror succeeds, most of all, in elegance.  Characters move through a sumptuous world, wandering along whirls of purple and blue on the floor, moving through dark woods and bright cottages. Varvara Sosedova, a visual artist from Moscow, brings personality and charm to the scenes, costumes, and props she designs. The contemporary songs and music also do their part to bring a hard edge to the story.  Even when characters aren’t as distinguishable as they could be or when the story begins to drag, the Juventas New Music Ensemble and composer Polina Nazaykinskaya create a fully realized world for Alexander Pushkin’s Snow White. Continue reading

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May 30

Promo: The Magic Mirror

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Promo by Gillian Daniels

Juventas New Music Ensemble will be presenting an interpretation of Snow White this weekend, Polina Nazaykinskaya’s The Magic Mirror.  Based on the version of the fairytale by Alexander Pushkin, the story is a classic that has been adapted for contemporary audiences. In this version of the tale, the seven dwarfs have been replaced with seven brothers and the Evil Queen’s perspective promises to be explored. Continue reading

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May 29

“Faerie Tales” Double Feature

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presented by Blue Spruce Theatre

Act 1: “Goblin Market”
by Polly Pen and Peggy Harmon
Music by Polly Pen
Based on the poem by Christina Rossetti

Act 2: World Premiere of “The Rag Doll”
Music and Lyrics by David Reiffel
Book by Silvia Graziano

Directed by Jesse Strachman
Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez
Choreography by Kira Cowan

May 23-26, 2013
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA 02472
Blue Spruce Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown) Blue Spruce Theatre’s Faerie Tales has a bit of charm, some nice music, and an engaging visual style. None of these things, however, manage to carry the show on their own. This is very sad as there are elements in the play, like fairies and the importance of family, that I adore when utilized in other media.

Faerie Tales uses two different stories that overlap in theme. The first act is devoted to adapting Christina Rossetti’s poem, Goblin Market, to the stage. Laura (Teresa Winner Blume) and Lizzie (Abigail Clarke) are sisters who stumble on a magical fairy marketplace. Lizzie shies away from eating the market food and going near the animal-like creatures, but Laura is too taken with their strangeness and is immediately seduced into spending a night among the goblins. When her sister returns and begins to grow ill, Lizzie struggles to find a cure. Continue reading

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May 21

“Pirates of Penzance” Pillages Hearts

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Emily Casey, Sean Pfautsch, Matt Kahler, Ryan Bourque, Dana Omar. Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

presented by American Repertory Theater
produced by The Hypocrites
by Gilbert & Sullivan
adapted by Sean Graney, Kevin O’Donnell
directed by Sean Graney

Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
The Hypocrites’ Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge) The Hypocrites’ production of Pirates of Penzance is an absolute confection.  Adapting the beloved Gilbert and Sullivan operetta to a quirkier, more contemporary stage, Sean Graney and Kevin O’Donnell infuse the original libretto and its score with banjos, bathing suits, beach balls, and a warmth that charms but never cloys.  It’s energetic and just plain fun.

Premiering in New York in 1879, the original show has a long history of making audiences titter at lyrics like, “I am the very model of a modern major general.”  The comic opera lampoons Victorian concepts of honor, piracy, politeness, the literary inconveniences of being a foundling, and, most importantly, duty. Continue reading

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Apr 19

“Beowulf”: A Badass, Raucous Production

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Kickin'it olde school. Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

Kickin’it olde school. Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presented by American Repertory Theatre
A songplay by Banana Bag and Bodice
Text and lyrics by Jason Craig
Music by Dave Malloy
Directed by Rod Hipskind, Mallory Catlett

Oberon
Cambridge, MA
April 16 – May 5
A.R.T. Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge) An aggressively weird audio feast, this Beowulf is a musical take on the millennia-old epic-poem. The dialogue performs the syntax gymnastics of Seamus Heaney’s translation while the songs are guttural and set to a frantic, pleasing percussion. Banana Bag and Bodice’s production, though, both honors the source material while dissecting it. Continue reading

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Apr 02

Properly and Honestly: MASTER CLASS

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Amelia Broome as Maria Callas; Photo: Rob Lorino

Presented by New Repertory Theatre

A play with music by Terrence McNally
Directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman

Charles Mosesian Theater
Watertown, MA 02472
March 31 – April 21, 2013
New Rep Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown) Amelia Broome doesn’t use a Greek accent in her portrayal as international treasure and opera superstar, Maria Callas. The audience doesn’t have the luxury of knowing why Broome chose not to use an accent. Broome’s performance is effective without one so the reasons don’t matter.

Master Class is a grand opportunity for non-Classical singers (plebes) to experience the horror and joy that is operatic study. It is a (relatively) cheap vocal coaching for its length and history wrapped in a convenient package. The dialogue is only slightly dramatized for the benefit of the audience. The majority of Callas’ lessons and helpful hints are comments that any voice teacher could and would give her student. The majority of these same lessons and hints are conveyed in a similar manner as well. Continue reading

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Mar 22

Not Your Daddy’s Rock Opera: URO’s JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

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Courtesy of the URO Facebook Page

Words and Music by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber.

Presented by The Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra*

The Norwood Theatre
109 Central St.
Norwood, MA
March 21st at 7:00 pm – March 24th at 2:00 pm
URO Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Norwood) The Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra (URO) rocks. They have made a brilliant career out of rocking classics by musicians such as The Beatles, Bowie, and Queen. Last night’s performance of Jesus Christ Superstar was no exception. Put simply, they capture all the funk that Andrew Lloyd Weber missed. Continue reading

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Feb 11

“Cinderella” Goes to Harvard

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dunster

presented by the Dunster House Opera at Harvard University
Cendrillon by Jules Massenet

Directed by Katherine Moon ’14
Music Directed by George Fu ’13
Produced by Stephanie Havens ’14 and Marina Chen ’15

February 9 – 6th at 8:30 p.m.
Dunster House, Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

Review by Nicola McEldowney

(Cambridge) The thing about going to a college production is this: it takes place at college. Therefore, coming into this production, I felt a great sense of trepidation, because I recently got over my own bout with college and I am still susceptible to triggers. Fortunately, I only have a few symptoms left: occasional twitching, a diploma and a pair of college-apparel socks. But here, it was dangerous: there were post-college stress disorder triggers everywhere. There were all the trappings of university life: the dining hall (where the production took place), the ill-rendered student council campaign poster deftly incorporating the “M-F” word, and of course, the nearly-full take-out container of sushi casually tossed in the trash. This kind of thing can transport you back to your own college days with the kind of nostalgia so profound it requires Kaopectate. Continue reading

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