Many of you know that my esteemed colleague Lucy Bardo is one of the first and best American viola da gamba players through her work with such prestigious and pioneering ensembles as the NY Consort of Viols and Calliope and her concertizing here and abroad. Her long career has paralleled the growing awareness of and love for the instrument among the public in the United States over the past half-century or so. I have enjoyed the privilege of performing with her on many occasions—she is a total musician whose playing blends subtlety and nuance with power and authority.
I heard Matthew Penn’s direction of Christopher Durang’s Chekhov play as a collision of energies—almost a rant against reticent Chekhov and his gazing, yearning characters. The play depends pretty much on the performance of Masha, an aging movie actress. Elizabeth Aspenlieder had all that was needed to make this character work.
Jonathan Epstein undertook a courageous and largely successful project making an evening’s performance out of the Henry plays. I could have used a little more Doll Tearsheet and a little less Ancient Pistol, but I understand choices have to be made. The narrative was clear throughout, and there were some surprising and gently humorous touches to leaven the loaf. Malcolm Ingram was an absolutely wonderful Falstaff. Seedy, not always assured – he didn’t sport the pomposo attitude we often see. His was a kind of seat-of-the-pants, make it up as you go, Falstaff.