Thought you’d like to know: Great White Way extends to Glimmerglass

Check out Daniel Wakin’s July 15 New York Times article about Wagnerian soprano Deborah Voigt’s Broadwayesque turn in Glimmerglass Festival’s production of “Annie Get Your Gun”: http://tinyurl.com/6jogaff. Also in the Cooperstown production: TCO favorite Jake Gardner as Buffalo Bill. And here’s a link to the Times’ review of the show: http://tinyurl.com/3fp4uj9.

Performances continue July 22, 24 and 30 and Aug. 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 20 and 21, in repertory with three other productions. Details: www.glimmerglass.org.

The following are links to Jane Dieckmann’s July 13 Ithaca Times reviews of “Medea” (http://tinyurl.com/3rlr7xk) and “Carmen” (http://tinyurl.com/6zr8ame) at the festival formerly known as Glimmerglass Opera. David Abrams of MusicalCriticism.com also reviewed “Carmen”: here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/435pfcp. Remember: BAMirror would love to hear about your visit(s) to Glimmerglass this summer.

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1 Response to "Thought you’d like to know: Great White Way extends to Glimmerglass"

  1. octavian1

    Several of us attended a performance of “Carmen” at Glimmerglass recently and, in reading the reviews, I sometimes thought that we must have seen a completely different production. We pretty much disagreed on many points in both reviews, as we expressed to each other upon leaving. This was, for the most part (and sad to say) not the sort of performance that our collective experience with MANY productions of this opera –- both as performers and audience, in venues large and small –- had led us to expect.

    First what I did like. The Micaela (more below) was wonderful. The chorus was vocally sharp and, though small, made an impressive sound -– their French diction was excellent. The secondary roles were uniformly well done. The conducting was spirited and, for the most part, nuanced. Likewise the orchestra played consistently well. I like this Opera Comique version, despite uneven French dialogue, as it kept the production moving. However, it was puzzling that the traditional chorus cuts in the last act were restored, as they added nothing but length to the running time (there’s a reason why those cuts are traditional).

    Singing: I do agree that Anya Matanovic as Micaela delivered a terrific performance both vocally and dramatically -– the best of the evening. She has a beautiful voice that soars without losing color, and she fit the part perfectly. Both Ms. Costa-Jackson (Carmen) and Mr. Diegel (Don Jose) seem to be set on dangerous vocal paths. Her voice DOES have “discernable” breaks between registers and, here I do agree with Mr. Abrams review (linked in the article), the voice does not “come to (you)”, but the other way around. She pushes her voice far too much, and is alternately too “chesty” or too “hooty”, depending on the register, and the voice just sounds manufactured. Mr. Diegel sounds very tight when restrained singing is required, and over-sings (or verges on over-singing) in dramatic passages. His voice was cracking in all the sustained high passages in Act III (which was Act II, Scene i in this production) and continued to do so throughout Act II, Scene ii, or pulled back to prevent it from happening, again producing the tight sound mentioned and removing the inherent dramatic tension. Michael Todd Simpson as Escamillo (Mr. Abrams’ review errs; Keith Miller withdrew from the role and was replaced before the opening) produced a rather wooly sound and tended to “bark” as many singers do in that role. The smaller roles were generally all very well sung.

    Acting: I have seen slender singers portray Carmen with such sensuality and intensity that they appeared larger than life. This was not the case here. Ms. Costa-Jackson’s portrayal had little of that smoldering passion, and her movements were far from fluid. She appeared completely awkward in her attempt to seduce Don Jose in Act I, scene ii wearing his hat, belt and gun –- it looked like a bad strip-tease. Mr. Diegel’s acting ability is pretty well covered in the two linked reviews, and here again Ms. Matanovic was stellar in her warm, understated characterization. Again, the secondary roles were relatively well acted, especially El Dancairo and El Remendado.

    Staging: I found the staging far too stylized -– semi-choreographed might be more accurate –- and lacking energy. It looked automated, and the “motion” seemed more like aimless wandering. Simultaneous arm gestures by all the singers in the chorus contributed nothing. While I liked the “concept” staging of the final confrontation between Carmen and Don Jose as almost a dance/duel in a sand bullring (and even liked the fact that they were the only two on stage at the end, despite the fact that it fights the text), I’ve since learned that this concept was likely originated by Peter Brook in “La Tragedie de Carmen,” which premiered on Broadway in the 1980s. And what was with the box of oranges carried around by a female chorister during the overture and the first scene and, again, at the start of the final scene. Was this to remind us we were in Seville? Unfortunately, it was the ONLY color on the set, so it drew all the focus.

    Sets: This Carmen was set during the Spanish Civil War and, apart from sparing the budget on sets and costumes, it’s hard to see what was gained. The unit set, if it could be called such, was dingy brown, drab and flat. In what world do the cigarette girls have to exit the cigarette factory through the guardhouse (and sit down upon arriving)? Even when there were the traditional “three walls”, backstage action (such as singers waiting to make their entrances) could be seen -– perhaps that was intentional. Those walls were perhaps 12 feet high, revealing rigging, pipes, etc. normally concealed from the audience. In what is traditionally Act III (the opera was performed in two acts here), there were no walls at all –- all of the backstage apparatus was in full view. A concept? Perhaps, but it was ugly. Maybe if there had been more action on stage, it would have served to concentrate the attention, but in this case it was just boring to look at it.

    Costumes: The time period they chose to set this production was not a fashion high point. The costumes, for the most part, were plain, unflattering and colorless. Perhaps they were in stock from another production, but they were similar in color to the drab set and to each other –- often it was difficult to tell one singer from another (including leads) due to the sameness in wardrobe. A notable exception was Carmen’s orange slip/dress worn in Act I, scene ii. However it did not flatter her slim figure. The soldiers could all have been in the Pakistani military, as near as I could tell. In the final scene, Carmen, Frasquita and Mercedes appeared in matching outfits (different colors), but these too were just dowdy except for the blinding shoes -– Carmen wore “ruby red slippers” that were TOO reminiscent of “The Wizard of Oz.” Micaela’s pale blue traveling suit was appropriate, but the valise she carried looked like a dog carrier (perhaps Toto was hiding there?).

    All in all, I found this to be a relatively glum production in most respects.