It’s a truly original idea. Two performers (a mezzo soprano and baritone,) portraying two sides of the same coin: a transgender character named Hannah. Born a boy and dressed like a boy in sneakers and a letterman jacket, Hannah (in the baritone phase of their life) secretly wears a blouse underneath because “it feels so right,” as they deliver their newspapers on a paper route.
But even with the small missteps, Odyssey Opera once again hit a home run. La Belle Hélène is that rare Offenbach operetta that doesn’t necessarily run like a clockwork mouse in terms of efficiency, but with the right cast it can still prove to be a fun, lighthearted evening at the opera.
As messy as the plot of Orlando is, this approach worked for this opera just as well as it has in previous seasons, and the result was rather a joy to watch that it became rather easy to turn the brain off and just enjoy the opera as it is.
Opera composers who write their own libretti are rare and with good reason. Musicians train in the land of notes and chords but structuring a good piece of theatre requires a different skill set. In the case of The Impossible She, presented by Rhymes with Opera (as part of the New York Opera Fest) composer Daniel Thomas Davis should have stuck with what he does best.
It is an increasingly rare occasion to feel moved in the way I was watching this performance when I go to the opera now. Perhaps I'm spoiled; too much of a good thing, and all that.
"Tina Fey said 'If you want to be a screenwriter, take an acting class to get a sense of what you’re asking actors to do.' It's another perfect quote from one of my writing idols, and my performance experience definitely informs hypothetical staging."
This mix of breaking down the fourth wall, group narratives and of course, lots of singing provided for a wonderful and unique theater experience. I have had little to no experience with the Negro Spiritual genre, and Jubilee was truly educational experience.
Storen, Glaser, and Soden's teamwork resulted in a score that really is like a Pandora's box. It is a complex kaleidoscope of sound worlds with flavours of new-age, atonal, and modernist experimental styles.
Plus! At the piano is Jenna Simeonov (me), founder and editor of Schmopera. Out and about and likely wearing lipstick.
"It is essential that both the director and conductor celebrate the singer-actor and love the act of storytelling. The awesome feat of the singer producing their sound and getting that sound into the house should be respected."