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Sunday, 23 June 2013 14:38

St. Lou Fringe 2013: 'The Golden Goose' doesn't glitter

Written by Chuck Lavazzi
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St. Lou Fringe 2013: 'The Golden Goose' doesn't glitter
stlfringe.com

The classical music and theatre scenes in St. Louis are both lively, yet the art form that combines both—opera—still struggles. Opera Theatre produces generally fine work and gets international attention, but it’s only up and running for a little over a month. Add in the short seasons by our two smaller companies, Union Avenue Opera and Winter Opera, and local fans get to see, at most, a dozen productions per year.

That being the case, it was encouraging to see a new opera company, Gateway City Opera, make its debut at the Fringe Festival. Unfortunately, they’ve done so with a less than impressive new work, “The Golden Goose.”

Based on the classic Aesop fable but set (not very plausibly) in the present day, “The Golden Goose” seems unsure of what it wants to be. The extreme simplicity of Mary Wissinger’s music, coupled with the linguistic banality of the libretto by her and husband Steve Wissinger, make the piece feel like children’s theatre. But the jokes about the difficulties the husband experiences in finding a job in corporate America aren’t likely to register with anyone but adults, who are likely to be put off by that extreme simplicity and banality.

So as it stands, “The Golden Goose” is (you should pardon the expression) neither fish nor fowl: to simple for adults but too adult for children.

The rather flat performances by the cast didn’t help much. Mary Wissinger as The Wife and Kevin Duco Warner as the husband were adequate vocally (although when I saw the show Mr. Warner’s head voice sounded a bit wobbly at times) and Nicole Orr (as the Goose) had some very nice moments. She was also the strongest vocally, with a very solid soprano. On the whole, though, “The Golden Goose” had a slow, hesitant quality that suggested inadequate rehearsal.

It’s good to see a new opera company in town. I think, though, they might want to concentrate on existing material rather than trying to write their own. There are plenty of chamber operas out there that could be mounted with minimal expense. And they’re all better material than “The Golden Goose.”

"The Golden Goose" has one last performance today at 6 PM in the cabaret space at the Kranzberg Center, 501 North Grand. For more information: stlfringe.com.

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