“Even though I was brought up speaking Irish Gaelic, it didn't occur to me to commission composers to write on Irish Gaelic texts,” says Ní Mheadhra. “Colonization does weird things to a country.”
The characters begin as caricatures. Tamerlano (Lawrence Zazzo), a sadistic Southwestern oil baron who's a cross between Yosemite Sam and Daniel Day Lewis's tics in There Will Be Blood, has a grin (and mustache) glued to his face.
For generations of (male) musicologists, the character Don Giovanni has been something of an egalitarian sex god. These academics propped up their vision of Don-G-as-political-progressive with weak evidence, citing his willingness (compulsion?) to sleep with any woman, even fat, poor, and old ones.
Props must be given to Minnesota Opera for scheduling this family-friendly fan favorite, the seats were certainly filled. Hopefully the next generation of opera goers were hooked during this brief run!
It's a sour and tragic ending for an otherwise delightful love story. Moreover, the political subplot of the opera has a vagueness to it that leaves you wondering what its point of view is.
As Thomas Mallon said in the TalkBack after the performance, the suffering of LGBT+ people brought on by witch-hunting politicians in the 50s was unspeakable, and it is a place he hopes we never return to.
Calgary-born director Brenna Corner should be celebrated for her vision in making this production so memorable. Her sense of whimsy permeated everything, from the character relationships to the set design, resulting in an experience where one can sit back and let the drama unfold.
"I used to think that you can be exactly yourself, but what I have learned is that not everyone deserves to see you that way. Your family and close friends and some trusted colleagues can see you how you are, but it is ok to present more a guarded version of yourself until you find who is trustworthy."
Both Kampe and Golovnin are extraordinary in terms of vocal technique and stamina. Neither voice diminished noticeably by the end of what is an enormously challenging sing. But neither voice translates the overwhelming circumstances of the opera into music that matches its stakes. Points for consistency, but where was the drama?
And yet, something about the confines of the store were perfect for producing the triple-bill of short operas by Jonathan Bailey Holland that graced Room & Board, courtesy of Boston Opera Collaborative, and it led to a very entertaining, and frequently hilarious, night at the opera.