If opera can be seen as a circle struggling to widen the circumference of its audience, concerts consisting of song alone are a much smaller and much more esoteric circle. Ms. Fleming is trying to change that and is currently devoting her life to ensuring that there will be at least one more generation of song artists.
What's always drawn me to Braid on stage is her innate dramaticism. She understands character, nuance, backstory, and everything that an actor's actor loves to see another actor exercise on the stage.
Like, I can handle some dramatic symbolism, some commentary on a piece that has enormous wisdom in it; I suppose it's because all the neat little ideas -- Cherubim rides a unicycle! Susanna is obsessed with the Countess' fur coat! Figaro keeps leaping into an open pit in the floor! -- don't ever add up to something that's more profound than what Mozart and Da Ponte gave us.
"Puccini really captured the raw emotionality of a mother. He always wrote his ladies so well but specifically, with Suor Angelica, there's a deep sorrow there that makes it very interesting to portray. Being a mother now, it gives me a new perspective on it. It connects on a deeper level. Frankly it's a very hard aria to get through with dry eyes."
With the first Berg-to-Schubert transition, virtually seamless though that was hardly the primary intent, Welser-Möst made clear that these works, written just over a century apart, were part of a musical continuum.
Gunn portrays a man expecting his first child, and he expresses his excitement and his fears as he takes us through all the stages of the pregnancy – the first ultrasound, the second ultrasound, naming the child, etc.
Their interaction is so believable that we feel as if we are peering through the keyhole of the motel room where they've met for their illicit encounter. We forget we're watching something on a stage.
Suicide has been a frequent topic in opera over the centuries, and usually takes place in the passionate throes of a tragic event. Lang, however, explores the ‘act of taking one’s life’ not as a momentary impulse, but as a personal choice made after a great deal of contemplation.
One audience member commented “If you enjoyed this opera, you weren’t paying attention” and I think that’s bang on. This piece is difficult. From the music, to the staging, to the subject matter, this production is disturbing, unsettling and extremely raw.
There is an unfortunate trend currently in live theater. It’s not clear if the demand is coming from audiences or from theater companies who are either listening to their audiences or to the bottom line of their budgets.