May 07

Hate the Player, Not the Game: DON GIOVANNI

Costume Designer Tilly Grimes, © T Charles Erickson Photography, Set Designer Laura Jellinek, Each ticket holder receives free admission to Rock’s Gun Show.

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Conducted by David Angus
Stage Directed by Emma Griffin
Fight direction by Andrew Kenneth Moss
BLO Concertmaster: Sandra Kott
BLO Chorusmaster: Michelle Alexander

May 1 – 10, 2015
Boston Lyric Opera
The Shubert Theater
Boston, MA
BLO on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Opera singers are gifts that keep on giving. Along with my usual attendance of BLO’s Don Giovanni, I had the pleasure of experiencing a bonus adventure the Friday evening before while out with my wife. She and I were supposed to be on a romantic date. We did not count on a cameo by a premier performer. I was to be well-compensated for my diverted attention. Continue reading

Jan 30

That Which Makes Us Different Makes Us Beautiful: BREATH & IMAGINATION

Elijah Rock, Nehal Joshi and Harriet D. Foy Photo credit: Mike Ritter

Elijah Rock, Nehal Joshi and Harriet D. Foy
Photo credit: Mike Ritter

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Created/written by Daniel Beaty
Directed by David Dower
Music directed/accompanied/arranged/additional music by Jonathan Mastro

Jan 27 – Feb 08, 2015
Paramount Center Mainstage
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook
Roland Hayes (School of Music) on Facebook, Wiki

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Black lives matter: Racism is alive and thriving everywhere. “But it’s 2015,” people will cry. Right, it’s 2015 and racism is still alive and thriving in Boston. To prove a point: check out which art makes the most money. For an institution greatly concerned with artistic expression, remaining significant in an ever modernizing world, and pushing boundaries, opera tends to steer clear of non-White people. Opera includes POCs in its casting but its stories are mostly about White people. Roland Hayes, first Black man to sing a concert at Symphony Hall would be an excellent subject for an opera.  Thank the great goodness that there’s Breath & Imagination to educate the masses. Continue reading

Oct 27

Bravo: “La Tragédie de Carmen”

Presented by the Boston University Fringe Festival
Adapted from Georges Bizet’s opera by Marius Constant, Jean-Claude Carrière, and Peter Brook
Stage Directed by Jim Petosa
Conductor: William Lumpkin

October 8 – 26, 2014
BU Theatre, Lane-Comley Studio 210
264 Huntington Avenue
BU Fringe Festival on Facebook
CFA School of Theatre on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston, MA) Opera might be opera, but you’ve never seen opera like this before. The Fringe festival’s production of La Tragédie de Carmen is a fresh, energetic take on Brook’s gritty adaptation of Bizet’s piece with exciting voices full of promise.

One of the exhilarating things about seeing students perform opera is that they are singing machines. Conservatory, as a general rule, makes from semi-trained talent lean, mean, professional instruments with clarity and utterly perfect precision. As such, performances by these students are chock full of those qualities, as well as an exuberance and boundless energy that is simply thrilling to watch. These students are hungry to perform, and this brings the stakes of their performances through the roof. Continue reading

Mar 17

Awareness is Key: RIGOLETTO

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

Nov 13

BLO Opera Annex: “Lizzie Borden”


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.

 

Jun 07

“The Magic Mirror”: Window Into Another World

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

May 30

Promo: The Magic Mirror

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

May 29

“Faerie Tales” Double Feature


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

May 21

“Pirates of Penzance” Pillages Hearts

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

Apr 19

“Beowulf”: A Badass, Raucous Production

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