The main destination this year was Glimmerglass, with three of the four productions seen. The delegation skipped Boheme, from a combination of ennui, short budget, and civic-mindedness (figuring that would be the one to sell out, so they didn't need us). So that left La Gazza Ladra (billed as The Thieving Magpie, because that's how they roll out there), Sweeney Todd, and Robert Ward's opera version of The Crucible.
I've already remarked elsewhere about Magpie -- in all fairness it's a limited opera, drama-wise, with the standard Soprano Wrongly Accused bel canto plotline. The director chose to focus on the notion
|The Thieving Magpie - photo Karli Cadel|
|Photo: Karli Cadel|
I can understand their point: if it's always been done that way, a director who's not going to do it that way needs to up the ante. Alden did the opposite, opting instead for a weary charwoman routinely dousing the wall with a bucket of blood she fills from a spigot. That was cute in its way, but short on impact. If Alden's intent was to undermine and critique audience expectations, I guess he succeeded.
One thing Alden's approach did accomplish is to highlight how much Sondheim's chorus is reminiscent of the chorus in Peter Grimes. If that was his intent as well, then yay, but it will have left the musicals people, who wanted their London docks and period costumes, their trap doors and their specially designed Sweeney Todd razors, all as they're used to having them.
The cast, vocally and dramatically, was pretty much the level you would expect at Glimmerglass, though Greer Grimsley's Sweeney didn't quite convey the required boiling rage under a veneer of service-economy civility -- or at least it didn't reach the nosebleeds. Sounded good, though.
|Brian Mulligan, Ariana Wehr - photo Karli Cadel|
|The Crucible: trial scene - photo Karli Cadel|
If you never knew there was an opera version of The Crucible...welp, neither did I, so I can't speak much about the score, having only heard it once. But conductor Nicole Paiement's orchestra gave the music enough punch that I wanted to hear it again. The broadcast on WQXR is November 12th.