Articles by Mari S. Gold
From the projections of flying swans to the tragic/heroic end, this production is thrilling, unsettling, comedic and beautiful, sometimes all at once.
Wagner’s Ring Cycle, aka Der Ring des Nibelungen, is a complicated, four-opera series dealing with the struggles to acquire a ring that provides the power to dominate the world. Characters including a human hero, demigod woman, King of the Gods, nasty dwarf and many others are part of the action. The entire opus lasts fifteen hours and has been the source of numerous parodies.
The play is a study in contrasts with the blindingly white stage vs. ripping, visceral emotions, a Medea for our time in which Jason is Lucas, who makes designer pharmaceuticals, and Medea is Anna, once a physician and successful head of the lab where both worked. Anna has been driven mad by rage, sparked by her husband’s infidelity. Rage and instability take over until she ends up destroying herself and everyone around her.
This production hews to the original Gilbert & Sullivan work in many ways but takes great care not to offend as did the 2015 production which the company pulled. Instead of being transported to the fictional town of Titipu, typically introduced as the curtain rises by the men’s chorus singing If You Want to Know Who We Are, often complete with snapping fans, this version opens with a prologue in the D’Oyly Carte Company’s headquarters. The scene reveals Messrs. G. and S. with producer Richard D’Oyly Carte mulling over what will follow their current hit, Princess Ida. Inspired by interest in things Japanese, a craze that swept London in the mid-1850s, Gilbert (David Auxier who also plays Pish-Tush), sustains a minor head injury and, as though in a dream, conceives the operetta that follows.
Broadway Close Up
Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center
December 9, 2019
Behind the Scenes of Broadway
One of the many delights of Transformations, the final concert of this year’s Broadway Close Up series, was to hear …
Amahl and the Night Visitors has a long history. First commissioned by NBC and performed by the NBC Opera Theater in 1951, it was broadcast live on television as the debut production of the Hallmark Hall of Fame, the first opera specifically composed for American television. Composer Gian Carlo Menotti reported being inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Adoration of the Magi and specified that the role of Amahl was to always be played by a boy (not a woman although it is a soprano role.)
The evening was glorious with eight beautiful dancers moving effortlessly through three movements that relate to the “world’s melting pot of culture, New York City.” Before the performance started, Tiffany Rea-Fisher, the company’s artistic director, took the audience through a lot of technology involving cell phones and an app that had to be downloaded and installed on phones. It may have deepened the experience for some but I thought it awkward, unnecessary—and mostly unworkable. Millennials probably loved it.
This program, subtitled “a 100-year survey of gay and lesbian writers and characters on Broadway from the 1920s to 2020,” was just as good musically but more emotionally-charged than similar “Broadway tributes” at this venue. The outpouring of feelings was probably due to the subject matter—the work of gay and lesbian music makers— along with coming out stories and brief, but necessary, references to the AIDS crisis. Even though this was the second performance, the emotions felt entirely genuine and often brought cheers from the audience. The program was designed to examine the history of closeted writers and coded imagery while detailing how more open and explicit the classification became starting in the 1970s.