Frida Kahlo was Mexican, an artist, a woman, disabled, queer, Communist. Though the pacing of the opera was choppy and piecemeal, resembling a biopic in its sweeping depiction of her teenage romance, her life-altering bus accident, her revolutionary politics, and her turbulent marriage, the format was well suited to highlight the many intersecting facets of Kahlo's complex and richly lived biography.
It doesn't help that Gounod's setting is about as dusty as operas get, focusing more on the downfall (and ultimate redemption in death, of course) of Marguerite, than on Faust's own psychological struggle, this opera always comes off like a parody of a 19th-century morality play, which was only emphasized by Staley's design which could have been pulled straight out of a European theater from 150 years ago.
Connolly, whose prolific contribution to classical performance over the course of her career - a career that has now made her a household name - garnered palpable excitement from the audience from the moment she walked on stage. She carries a sense of poise and authority as a performer, yet showed great vulnerability.
This production of The Rape of Lucretia was presented as one of BLO's now-signature installation operas: in this case, much of the action was concentrated on a relatively small circle in the center of the Arts for Humanity Epicenter building.
Seated precariously close in the second row, I probably had a dorky, star-struck look plastered on my face as I took in the high caliber classical singing.
When someone mentions Tchaikovsky's opera, the image in my head is of a starry-eyed Renée Fleming in a white nightgown in front of a clear blue background on a stage covered in thousands and thousands of gold and orange autumn leaves.
Audience stereotypes, flute-sex toy jokes, the inflated power of theatre ushers - it was all coming at me like a good roast. It was like that weird experience where someone tells you about yourself, picking out details that seem random or unexpected.
This was an example of intelligent, thoughtful programming, a wonderful way to showcase Ensemble Modern, and an opportunity to feature the work George Benjamin, a true household name by now.
This Ariodante exemplifies what I hope to see more of from the Lyric in future seasons: creative, specific staging performed by committed and compelling singer-actors, with top-notch direction in the pit.
The program's narrative is constructed from carefully monitored, highly produced confessionals. Applause signs and sensational graphics provoke tailored reactions from the studio audience, which itself seems on the show's payroll.