West Side Story isn't an easy show and, particularly in current climates, a controversial one to cast. It is dance heavy and, while the Atlanta Opera Chorus shined during their choreographed number during last season's La fille du régiment, West Side Story requires specialized training, perfect timing, and active feats of physical intensity. After spending election night in the audience of the same production I was so nervous about, I can genuinely say that it is a production not to miss.
It's a crass move to co-opt sexual assault as a means to artificially raise an opera's stakes. It also causes serious dramaturgical issues. By screwing around with the plot, the director has given herself the irreconcilable task of manufacturing staging that respects the repercussions of Iolanta's assault, while spinning an idyllic, fairytale love story, with a libretto that only supports the latter.
Then one day in the car, he heard a completely original Melody that suddenly came into his head and he began to cry. From there on - and to this day - melodies have come to Mr. Thomas "incessantly." A composer was born.
It's a lot of hype for one night, and only part of it is open to the public. The competitors sing one closed round before the crowd files in for the second, and after the competition is done, the singers are whisked away for a gala dinner with their colleagues - and most notably, the evening's donors.
The Journey Home is inspired by the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, and features traditional picks (Schubert, Vaughan Williams), as well as popular and art songs by composers who were killed in the war.
"He spins a beautiful melody," says mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó, who joins the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir on this programme of Steffani's music. The composer's style, "for me, it falls between Cavalli and Handel."
It's funny how similar the opera-going experience is, be it at an opera house or the movies. Older audience members still kvetch about the venue - "They should have it at TIFF," et cetera - and there's the usual mixture of apologies and harumphing as latecomers squeeze past their neighbours' knees to find their mid-row seats.
A modular synth opera is about a hipster as you can get: "Modular synthesizers have been around since the early 1960s but they fell out of favor in the 1980s," say Cady and EiO founders Matthew Welch and Aaron Siegel. "In the last 10 years, there has been a resurgence of interest in modular synthesizers as they have gotten cheaper, smaller and generally more accessible for enthusiasts and musicians."
The show, a revue of Baroque arias and a world premiere by music director Daniel Schlosberg, incorporated masterful singing, a costumed 6-piece band, gender bending, lip syncing, imaginative costumes and dazzling makeup in the intimate venue of Roulette Theatre in Brooklyn.
"Of course, school education does not give you large amounts of stage experience, in the same way as is provided by some young artist programs. During two seasons as a young artist in London, I was singing supporting roles on the main stage and making unexpected debuts in the leading roles. Of course, in extreme situations you learn much faster."