May 22

An Alternate Tyranny and Timeline in Handel’s “Silla”


Presented by The Cambridge Chamber Ensemble
Music by G.F. Handel
Libretto by Giacomo Rossi
Music Directed by Juliet Cunningham
Stage Directed by Ingrid Oslund
Produced/Executive Direction/Translation by Martha Birnbaum
Rossana Chung, violin
Rob Bethel, violincello
Lisa Putukian, oboe
Juliet Cunningham, harpsichord
May 17 – May 19, 2019
Warehouse IX
Somerville, MA
The Cambridge Chamber Ensemble on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Somerville, MA) Roselin Osser as Silla has the wild eyes, swagger, and exquisite cheekbones of a villain as he dominates the stage. In this alternate version of 2019, the Roman Republic is alive and well and Silla, after a successful military campaign, announces that he plans to rule as Perpetual Dictator of Rome. The reporters are horrified. Silla’s wife, Metella (the hilarious Theresa Egan) grits her teeth and stands by her man. As Silla begins to openly lust after other women and jail his political enemies, however, Melania–I mean, Metella, yes, begins to wonder just how much her loyalty to a tyrant husband is worth. Continue reading

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Apr 18

Drinking with Aristotle in “Ipsa Dixit”

Presented by Original Gravity Concert Series
Music & Libretto by Kate Soper
Performed by Equilibrium
Soprano: Stephanie Lamprea,
Violin & Acting Music Director: Nicole Parks
Flute: Orlando Cela
Percussion: Mike Williams

April 12th at 7:30pm
Inner Space
17 Station Street
Brookline, MA, 02445
Original Gravity on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Brookline, MA) Ipsa Dixit is Art with a capital, “AH,” an often playful and highly erudite experiment with language and music chiefly meant for people who are already into That Kind of Thing. As a whole, it doesn’t have a clear entrypoint for laymen. This is, at least partially, about the meaning of words vs. the intent of the isolated mind that created them, ie. the vast chasm between expressing something verbally and the isolated brain meat where that verbiage was formed. So yes, it certainly falls into the category of My Thing, with its mosaic of words excerpted from the works of Aristotle, Sophocles, Freud, and Lydia Davis, among others. The music layered on top of these various texts construct an impressionistic portrait of what that language feels like. If you have ever found yourself hungry for a tense drama about a diagrammed sentence, this show is for you. During its two intermissions, there were people who bounced so solidly off the text, they ended up bouncing themselves. Otherwise, others stuck it out for the impressive oddity of Soper’s work as well as the free drinks provided by participating breweries. Continue reading

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Feb 05

BLO Hosts Free Event: “Reclaiming Lucretia” on Feb. 7, 2019 at 6PM


Costume rendering for Lucretia by designer Robert Perdziola for the new BLO production.

Acclaimed actress Paula Plum directs a cast of Boston-area singers and actors this week to explore the myth of Lucretia, the ancient Roman woman whose cruel sexual violation brought down an empire, and whose story has been retold for centuries by poets, playwrights and painters.  The free public event, “Reclaiming Lucretia: Responding to Sexual Violence through Music, Poetry and Story,” takes place Thursday, February 7 at 6 pm at District Hall, 75 Northern Avenue in the Boston Seaport. RSVPs are encouraged at BLO.org/calendar.

“Reclaiming Lucretia” is produced by Boston Lyric Opera in advance of its production of Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece opera, “The Rape of Lucretia,” which runs March 11-17, 2019.

Plum helms a fascinating one-hour look at the Lucretia story through the Britten’s music, the poetry of William Shakespeare, and the words of contemporary sexual assault survivors.  Plum weaves together song, spoken word and theatrical interpretation with a cast that includes: well-known Boston-area actors Aimee Doherty and Ed Hoopman; local singers Brianna Robinson (BLO’s newest Emerging Artist) and Jesse Darden (BLO’s first Principal Artist-in-Residence); returning mezzo-soprano Renee Tatum (seen in The Metropolitan Opera’s 2018 production of “Marnie” and as Jenny in BLO’s 2018 “The Threepenny Opera”); Longmeadow, Mass.-native and baritone David Tinerva; and pianist and Boston University lecturer Douglas Sumi.

The event is followed by an audience question-and-answer session with cast members, reflections from a representative of Boston Area Rape Crisis Center — which along with domestic violence support organization Casa Myrna is collaborating with BLO to bring context, support and contemporary perspective to content in “The Rape of Lucretia” — and a post-event reception.

Reclaiming Lucretia: Responding to Sexual Violence through Music, Poetry, and Story
Thursday, February 7, 2019 | 6:00pm 
District Hall, 75 Northern Avenue, Boston Seaport
Free; RSVPs encouraged

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Oct 03

Fair is Foul. Foul is Fair*: “Rev. 23: A Hellish, Farcical Opera”

Photo by Kathy Wittman; keep on rockin’ on, kids.

Presented by White Snake Projects
Creator and libretto by Cerise Lim Jacobs
Composed by Julian Wachner
Directed by Mark Streshinsky
Conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya
Dramaturgy by Cori Ellison
Choreography by Yury Yanowsky

Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2017
John Hancock Hall
Boston, MA
White Snake Projects on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”
Revelation 21:23Bible, New International Version  (NIV)

(Boston, MA) White Snake Projects is giving the BLO a run for their money. It’s my sincere hope that artists and their audience will watch the works of both companies but, if one has to choose, WSP may be the winner in the competition for attendees. Its edgy productions are worth the commitment. Continue reading

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Dec 15

Perfectly Charming Air Ship “Pirates of Penzance”

Presented by The MIT Gilbert & Sullivan Players
Libretto by W.S. Gilbert
Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan
Produced and Directed by Emma Brown
Orchestra Directed by Johnnie Han

December 2-10, 2016
La Sala de Puerto Rico
Cambridge, MA
MITGSP on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) What is happiness? “Steampunk pirate opera” is an excellent answer.

This year, the MIT Gilbert & Sullivan Players opted for a pleasing, energetic performance of one of the best operettas of all time. The warmth and enthusiasm on display is heartening. Continue reading

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May 31

La Donna è divertente!

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Looking fierce.

La Donna Improvvisata
Presented by ImprovBoston
Starring, improvised by Lisa Flanagan
Musical accompaniment by Mike Descouteaux

May 29, 2016 @11pm
Improv Boston
Cambridge, MA
La Donna on Facebook

Review by Noelani Kamelamela

(Cambridge, MAMusical improv is a special permutation of improvisational comedy.   I think it appeals to people who both love comedy and have a lot of experience in listening to different genres of music.  I’ve certainly been subjected to short form musical improv in which the creation of mostly unrelated individual song-scenes  felt much longer than the allotted two minutes.  Stringing short song-scenes together into a long form musical improv set can be challenging even for mid-sized groups to tackle.  Musical abilities and frequently a pianist are required.  One supporting piece that can be useful is the addition of a premise.  In “La Donna Improvvisata,” Lisa Flanagan did a unique send-up of opera tropes entirely with the help of one accompanist on keyboard. Continue reading

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Apr 19

Britten’s Opera is a “Dream”

Queen Tytania (Maya Kherani) and Bottom (Joseph Hubbard), Photo provided by BU School of Music

Queen Tytania (Maya Kherani) and Bottom (Joseph Hubbard), Photo provided by BU School of Music

Presented Boston University College of Fine Arts
Benjamin Britten, composer & Peter Pears, librettist
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
William Lumpkin, conductor
Tara Faircloth, stage director

April 14–17th, 2016
Boston University Theatre
264 Huntington Avenue, Boston
BU Arts on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) I enjoy myself most with adaptations of Shakespeare’s comedies when their sense of fun and lightness remain intact. The direction in Boston University Theatre’s production of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream didn’t fail me. This vision is every bit the dream of the title. Fairies wear blue wigs and polka dot suits, columns of giant, white flowers are moved across the stage, Puck (Elizabeth Valenti) brings Queen Tytania (Maya Kherani) her morning tea, and King Oberon (Wee-Kiat Chia) smugly points out his wife slept with an enchanted donkey-man (Joseph Hubbard) the night before. One scene flows into the next elegantly. For the most part, it’s a perfectly realized vision. Continue reading

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Feb 22

Short, Sweet, and Gory: “La Zombiata”


Presented by WholeTone Opera
Opera by Jillian Flexner
Based on the opera by Giuseppe Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave.
Stage Director: J. Deschene
Music Director: Ian Garvie

February 12 – 14, 2016
Davis Square Theater
Somerville, MA
WholeTone Opera on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Somerville, MA) The few times I’ve been to an opera, I noted that if you took out a lot of the notes people sang, you would end up with a bloody, sexy tale. Being that I’m generally inclined for a bloody, sexy tale over a lot of notes, I daydreamed of a streamlined opera that didn’t take itself so seriously. (Have you gathered I don’t usually like opera?) Continue reading

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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

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Nov 20

“Love Potion” Number Nine

Photos by Eric Antoniou, Boston Lyric Opera 2014.

Photos by Eric Antoniou, Boston Lyric Opera 2014.

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music by Frank Martin
Based on Joseph Bédier’s 1900 novel Roman de Tristan et Iseut
New English translation by Hugh Macdonald
Stage Director David Schweizer
Conductor David Angus (Ryan Turner on Nov. 22)

November 19 – 23, 2014
Temple Ohabei Shalom
1187 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA
Boston Lyric Opera on Facebook

Of all the art forms out there, the slowest to adapt to the shifting sands of time is theatre. This is true for many reasons (how long it takes to produce a piece of theatre, how many fingers have to be in the theatre pie, and how many minds have to be shifted about the fundamental precepts of the art form just to name a few…). Some might call this a devotion to tradition; theatre (after all) does have a long and vibrant history to honor at every step of the production process. Others might call it a weakness which, Darwineanly, will be the very demise of the art form if it doesn’t find some way to evolve. Continue reading

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