All senses were catered to as audience members were misted with fragrant water and touched softly by the performers while being whispered and sung to directly.
Writing an opera of this scale is not a simple charge and the task of producing it faces even more challenges; it is an immense work to attempt to pay homage to. There were a few magical, sparkling moments on stage that were completely true to the book, perfectly capturing the essence of Tolstoy's words.
Characters would regularly go and stand at the bar to the right of the stage and "hang out" while the action was happening. This made for a very relaxed, fun and interactive atmosphere. In the Prince's aria during the party scene, Falke brought up a random audience member to take part in the festivities.
I really liked Ms. Manich's bold choice at the end of having the sisters have suitcases in hand ready to leave. Just as the music ends the women make eye contact with their former fiancés, and they freeze.
At the end of the performance, the audience was served the very chocolate cake depicted in the opera, bringing the experience full circle. A decadent finish to a decadent evening.
On Friday, July 19, Wolf Trap Opera opened their second opera of their summer season with Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. An opera within an opera is always a difficult feat in my opinion, and the creative team made it an entertaining and comical evening.
The staging and direction of this song cycle by Cara Gabriel was versatile and imaginative. The singers moved seamlessly between songs. I had absolutely no idea what the music would sound like, and I was pleasantly surprised. There were some minimalist crunchy 20th-century moments, but overall the melodies were beautiful and catchy. Some sounded very operatic, and some had a flower child, Simon and Garfunkel vibe.
This beautiful period production of Britten's The Turn of the Screw, directed by Louisa Muller, is no exception. The newly and rather cleverly built Opera Pavilion borrows from Japanese architecture, creating a space which ambiguously walks the line between the indoor and the outdoor.
Certain characters and scenes were exaggerated and grotesque, accentuating Wozzeck's unreliable interpretation of reality. Other moments, however, were unsettling precisely because they felt so realistic. The omnipresent menacing atmosphere was palpable throughout the opera, and McIntyre did not pull any punches when it came to the pivotal murder scene.
The music throughout was also brilliant. Perri Lo did a masterful job as the music director, especially with the ensemble scenes. Congratulations to everyone involved. Macbeth was a highly memorable top-notch production overflowing with talent and polish.