Of course, when the music found its dramatic stride, Saint-Saëns could deliver the drama in spades.The septet (actually an octet) that closed Act II made me wonder why it was cut to begin with, for it's the perfect musical climax to the second act.
I longed for more of this full integration of the two art forms, the burlesque and opera were truly crossing paths in this entertaining act.
The Male Chorus (sung fiercely and with crystal clear diction by tenor Wesley Frye) was dressed as half man half stag. The Female Chorus, played by lyric soprano Amy Wolf was a more feminine version and also had antlers. The head pieces were quite ornate.
Coming into this concert, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Coming out of it, however, I felt a rekindled appreciation for Callas as a stage artist.
In this version, the Beast only has a year to earn the love of a woman, or his heart will stop. It's an interesting twist on the tale, that adds a sense of immediacy to the love story.
The night's program veered amiably from operatic hits and season teasers to some truly deep cuts of the repertoire, like Fernand's aria from Donizetti's rarely-performed La favorite, gamely sung by the always-appealing, always spot-on Lawrence Brownlee.
Then the production succumbs to another tired trope in an attempt to solve the problem of too little too late. Tiridate slits everyone's throat in the midst of their celebratory epilogue as if to ask: is it still opera if no one dies?
In a preview on Monday, the company showed an impressive cast of young local talent and a very thoughtful premise for the controversial show. The company has also included a violence and intimacy director in the production - a presence that, hopefully, will some day be a regular credit in programs.
This was a co-production with multiple opera houses around the world, including Houston Grand Opera and Opera Australia. As usual, the individuals in the company were top notch vocally, but unfortunately the production over all fell flat.
What I like about The Tete-a-Tete Opera Festival is that it is always a mixed bag. It is an incredibly liberating thing to watch so many creative performers and theatre-makers experiment with the limitations of the form.