Service Provider is essentially an opera all about cell phone use; the characters are on cell phones for most of the run-time, pretty much ignoring everything around them.
Under Mary Birnbaum's assured direction this harrowing and cerebral story moves in a refreshingly linear way. The extraordinary melding of music, voice, dance and photography, not to mention Plato's philosophical discourse, have melded in a way that leaves us artistically and emotionally sated.
Everything about this production went out of its way to imbue the whole with artistic cohesion and integrity, even the elements that might have seemed vaguely avant-garde out of context.
I chose my words very carefully when I call this Curlew River a transcendent experience: I am afraid I cannot fully explain the power that this particular production had and why it had that power, but I remember leaving the Cathedral Church of St. Paul feeling somewhat transformed by the experience.
La traviata hosts what is probably opera's most well-beloved idiot plot: all of the characters make some fairly idiotic choices for the plot to progress as it does, and some characters can really come off as extremely unlikable as a result.
The music is beautiful and speaks for itself. French Baroque rarities by Rameau, Dandrieu and Courbois dance with subdued, exuberant and often tremulous elegance around the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice.
"I've been singing Handel and Rossini and Wagner and Verdi and Schubert and Brahms my whole career. What's the difference if I'm doing that or doing Irving Berlin and Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer and Barry Manilow? It's all music and it’s all just different styles and I enjoy singing them all."
The whole episode is an opera, guys! The barber thing, the memorable music from The Barber of Seville, it's all very self-aware. It's even got the Rossini-style comedy devices: people hiding in closets, slapstick scenes involving Newman — Don Basilio, maybe?
Garden of Vanished Pleasures is available to stream through October 10, and you should watch before it's gone. I'd say this is one of the more mature, well-produced digital items I've seen, and I'm not really surprised that it comes out of Soundstreams.
I think the night, strangely, was best summed up by the opening act: BLO elected to open the evening with the prologue from Cavalleria's much-beloved double-bill partner, I Pagliacci, with Arrey singing Tonio's line.