For its second production of the 2008-2009 season, L'OdeM has mounted a production of Bizet's "The Pearl Fishers," the actual physical production coming from San Diego Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre.
Sets and costumes were designed by Zandra Rhodes, and took their inspiration from the arts of India both in shape and color. Sometimes this resulted in the human beings in this fairytale being totally engulfed by the sets and the costumes.
It is truly unfortunate that Bizet died so young. He had grown as a musician during that time between "Pearl..." and "Carmen." Take one aspect of his writing, choral music, and in "Pearl fishers" the choral writing looks back to Gounod, especially the "Romeo and Juliet'"score. There are touches of Saint-Sa ns too ("Samson and Delilah"), but when Bizet wrote "Carmen", he wrote exquisite music for the chorus, starting from the first notes of the opera to the cigarette chorus, and he wrote ensemble music that represents total genius.
The singer's in the performance that I saw Nov. 5 was satisfactory, totally so, but it seldom rose above the pedestrian. One of the exceptions was the Zurga of baritone Phillip Addis sang beautifully and acted well. Karina Chauvin, soprano, sang the part of Le la. She knows the role well enough that she could extemporize and shade her part freely. Hers was an exemplary performance. Tenor Antonio Figueroa is quite lightweight as tenors go, but he uses his voice admirably well.
Fr d ric Chaslin conducted a reasonably tight reading of the score, and as mentioned before, as stage sets sometimes helped but sometimes hindered the reading of the heavily-edited. score. There is a final performance on Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. at Place des Arts.
UVM's Royall Tyler Theatre
Under the direction of Gregory Ramos and music direction of Tom Cleary, the Department of Theatre at UVM presented their second of three plays, Kander and Ebb's "Cabaret", which in turn was based on a play which in turn was base Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Diaries
I have long felt that the play needed to be retired for a while, because the transactions were becoming so sexually innocuous that I saw a performance that was loaded to the gills With children under the age of 12. Not so this offering at UVM. It is an appropriately adult story, as is the surround tale of the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s.
Actually, the book for the show is beautifully crafted, and it is all this finely crafted work that was echoed by the superb cast.
Matthew Trollinger was pluperfect as the Emcee-superficial, dangerous, a truly sexual animal, and though he had a little bit of difficulty with his German pronunciation, it was a minor flaw. Taryn Noelle was an excellent Sally Bowles, who wore their clothes smashingly and whose singing was quite well balanced with her acting.
Samuel Durant Hunter was Clifford Bradshaw, who comes to Berlin to experience sexual freedom and sacred deal more than he bargained for. Katie Owens and Craig Wells, Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz, were superb in their parts. The rest of the cast, too numerous to mention, also did a marvelous job, and not only with their singing and acting; they had to change sets as well.
Seven musicians under the direction of Tom Cleary provided the accompaniments for the singers very well. I'm always delighted when the orchestra can be behind the singers and the singers do not need hand cues from the conductor.
This wonderful production is possibly not going to be available to you at all, since the production is for all intents and purposes sold out for the rest of the run. If you don't mind to get a group of singles, you can give them a call at 802-656-2094. The only disappointment you will suffer if you don't get to see this marvelous production.
Burlington resident Dan Wolfe observes and critiques the local arts scene for the Times Sentinel. His column appears weekly.