Aimee Doherty and Deaon Griffin-Pressley. Photo Nile Scott Studios.

A Singer’s Notes 148: As You Like It in the Outdoor Garden at Shakespeare and Company

The best of director Allyn Burrow’s energetic As You Like It at Shakespeare and Company resides in the middle of the show.  The quietest of activity focused us on a vexed question: is disguise a better truth?  Somehow when I see As You Like It, I am always a little disappointed when Rosalind fits everything together, as if she were ready for a good evening out.  Our Rosalind, Aimee Dougherty, masterfully manipulated, lied even, to come to a better end.  What I liked most in her superb performance was that little twinge of doubt, just at the end.  The big question is, can deception tell the truth?  In this case the answer would have to be yes, and this wonderful young actress and singer made it work. (You may also have heard her wonderful voice in the Boston Pops Leonard Bernstein concert a couple of months ago.)

Thomas Adès leads the BSO in the suite to his opera, Powder Her Face, 7.22.18. Photo Hilary Scott.

More Strength Than Mystery—the Musical Spaces of Adès and Sibelius

Thomas Adès’ affinity for the music of Sibelius was manifest last summer when he led the TMC Orchestra in a program that included the Symphony no. 7.  In my review of that performance, I called attention to the relationship between mystery and space that is evident in this music and is also a factor in Adès’s own works.  These parameters were present in the current program but not as prominently: mystery was eclipsed by performances that were energetic even to the point of aggressiveness.  This might have been a function of the need to project into the cavernous reaches of the shed; both Adès and Tetzlaff, the soloist in the Sibelius Violin Concerto, favored large gestures, emotional intensity, and the upper end of the dynamic spectrum.  The results were musically clear and impressive, appropriate for Adès’s own music but sometimes less so for Sibelius.

Ryne Cherry, Dominik Belavy, Daniel McGrew, and Elaine Daiber perform in A Quiet Place at Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, 8.9.18. Photo Hilary Scott.

A Singer’s Notes 147: A Quiet Place

The Tanglewood Vocal Fellows singing Bernstein made a marvelous display of fine technique, verbal intensity, and general cooperation that wowed me.  I have always heard A Quiet Place with a sense of bewilderment, sometimes wondering where the opera came from.  An adventure in newness, one must listen to it carefully, repeatedly, to find its inside.  Let me say at this point that there was spectacular vocalism, particularly by soprano Elaine Daiber as Dede, whose golden voice roamed from below the staff to atmospheric heights with ease.

A Moment between Gustav (Jonathan Epstein) and Adolphe (Ryan Winkles) in Strindberg's Creditors. Photo Eloy Garcia.

A Singer’s Notes 146: August Strindberg’s Creditors at Shakespeare and Company

The plays of August Strindberg that I know tend to reach their greatest intensity in the middle.  His plays crave engagement.  Energy is all.  This was shown deftly, powerfully in Shakespeare and Company’s production of Creditors.  Convincing performances were provided by Jonathan Epstein as Gustav, Ryan Winkles as Adolph, and Kristin Wold as Tekla.  As Gustav, Mr. Epstein was the mover and shaker.  He had been given the difficult task of showing a kind of hidden abuse in the guise of providing instruction in living to the young Adolph, Mr. Winkles.

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