Although usually presented as a concert piece, Carl Orff's 1936 "Carmina Burana" was always intended to be theatrical, with some mimed action and "magic tableaux." The first performance in Frankfurt in 1937 was fully staged, in fact, with dancers, sets, and costumes.
This weekend, Union Avenue Opera concludes its 22nd season with "Götterdämmerung" ("Twilight of the Gods"), the final installment of the most ambitious project in the company's history—Wagner's mammoth operatic cycle "Der Ring des Nibelungen" ("The Ring of the Nibelung"). It's a strong production, thanks to tremendous performances by the singers and clear, focused stage direction by Karen Coe Miller.
If you are among the few who have never seen a production of "The Fantasticks," the current one at Insight Theatre Company offers you a splendid introduction to this ever-charming musical. On Luke Shyrock's well-worn circus set, director Maggie Ryan has emphasized the theatricality of the piece. Little of a fourth wall — even less than in most musicals — stands between the audience and the actors. They address us not only in song but in speech.
This past Saturday (June 27th, 2015) was the last day of the St. Lou Fringe Festival and, by sheer coincidence, also the best one as far as the shows I saw went. Better yet, three of the four I saw were by local groups.
Thursday, June 25th, turned out to be my best Fringe experience yet, with two fine one-person shows and a powerful Shakespeare-inspired cabaret act.
New operas can be a crapshoot, but San Francisco Opera has pretty much rolled up a winner with "Two Women" ("La Ciociara"), running through the end of June. Based on the 1958 novel "La Ciociara" by Alberto Moravia (and "informed by" Luca Rossi's screenplay for De Sica's famous 1960 film, "Two Women"), the libretto by Fabio Ceresa and composer Marco Tutino could use a bit of fine-tuning, but the lush neo-romantic score is filled with wonderful stuff.
With apologies to Rev. Dodgson: The time has come, the critic said, to talk of many things / Of Wonderland and mustache wax, and kids who act and sing.
In this first of a series of dispatches from the St. Lou Fringe Festival, we talk of top spinning, tap dancing, and toxic masculinity—a classic example of just how diverse the Fringe can be.
"Once in a Lifetime!" proclaims the poster for the San Francisco Opera's lavish production of Hector Berlioz's mammoth 1858 drama "Les Troyens" ("The Trojans"). For many of us in the Music Critics Association of North America attending the June 12th performance as part of our annual conference, that was the literal truth. Which still put us one up on Berlioz.
Stage director Michael Shell, conductor Ryan McAdams, and the cast of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis' "Barber of Seville" can all congratulate themselves on a job well done. Kelley Rourke's translation/adaptation of the original libretto and Mr. Shell's visual concepts take a few liberties as they move the action up to (roughly) the mid-1960s, but I felt that none of them violated the intentions of either the original opera or, for that matter, the Beaumarchais play that started it all. The result it a loopy, slightly surreal, and highly engaging take this comic opera classic.