B

 

I don’t see much opera, and I might have some unmitigatable issues with the form, but this was fun.

 

Hoo-rah!

  • Clean, classic, straight-forward ‘devil tempts naive lazy fellow’ story executed well. Coincidentally, I just rewatched The Devil’s Advocate earlier this week, so this was a great companion piece.
  • Some really bizarre but hilarious flourishes in the story, like the hero ‘inventing’ a steam-power machine that turns rocks into bread, and spending all of his money on it.
  • Sometimes on-the-nose subtext (or rather text) is hilarious. Our main character actually says out loud “Oh I wish I had money!”
  • Fantastic performance from Gerald Finley as Nick Shadow. He played the role with a delicious, sneering charisma and held the stage wonderfully whenever he was around. Also great physicality.
  • My second favorite performance was Margaret Lattimore as the bearded lady, credited as ‘Mother Goose.’ No idea within the context of the show why she was so popular with the townspeople, but the performance sold it.
  • Loved the set design. Reminded me of when I first started modeling in Google Sketchup, just seeing what big fun playful forms I could make. The scale of everything did a great job of diminishing Tom Rakewell and providing the sense that he’s been swept up in larger-than-life events that he can’t possibly control.

 

Blech…

  • None of the music was particularly memorable for me. Every time something started to become melodic, memorable, catchy– anything like that– it would suddenly deteriorate back into generic opera sing-talking.
  • The costuming was super bland, and especially with such a large cast it was easy for the main characters to fade into the sea of ensemble players.
  • Didn’t really care about our hero Mr. Thomas Rakewell. I blame both the naive-to-a-fault depiction of the character and a mas-o-menos performance.
  • Confused by Mr. Rakewell marrying the bearded lady, especially because she wasn’t an established character ahead of time and he seemed to really love his betrothed at the beginning. He just did it to be… extreme? A lot of people marry interesting people when they can, and this was an interesting choice, but I would’ve appreciated more justification for it. Also, partially due to our distance and partially due to the lack of establishing it as a key trait, we didn’t notice the bearded lady was bearded until after the first act. More beard!
  • After our hero defeats the devil, I think all the wind was knocked out of the show, and I did not need to spend 20 more minutes with Mr. Rakewell at the asylum hallucinating about his lost love. Yawn.

 

Tales from the audience:

  • We did that thing where we looked at the seating chart when buying our tickets and found a spot where the price jacked up one seat over, then at the show the more expensive seats weren’t sold so we were able to move over to the more expensive seats. We didn’t though. Still, nice to spread out!
  • Since I design theaters and seat views for a living, I couldn’t help but notice a bunch of the show was not viewable from people in the box seats. They were standing up, leaning over , and still not seeing what they needed to.
  • Very cool to see a limited run show on opening night. There’s a palpable energy to a bunch of performers excited to show you what they’ve been working on for the first time.