This is Des Moines Metro Opera's second opera performed at Camp Dodge, and I hope it will not be the last. Aside from the physical location, the collaboration with the military community produces numerous benefits. The participation of veterans and active duty service members in the post-show panel discussion helped to bridge the gap between theater and reality.
It is a piece that could have been so unabashedly English but instead it was a nationless, chilling cry of warning. It was a perverted mockery of the dangerous, power hungry nature of war. It was one long, beautiful moment of extended prayer.
The singers are works-in-excellent-progress, with the exception of Mr. Sy who is already "ready for the big time." Mr. Sy possesses an extraordinary tenor instrument that switches easily and constantly from forte to pianissimo, and from full voice to falsetto.
Alas, if only the final product understood the virtues of restraint! Its frequent dips into genre-based excess often veered into garish, meandering displays that more often than not proved so distracting it lost sight of the work's soul.
What is most remarkable about this opera, is how it really transfers the movie effectively to the stage. I really felt like I was watching the movie! Many of the memorable scenes were recreated very accurately. Minnesota Opera has proved once again their extraordinary talent at bringing new operas to life.
And I'm sorry, but I did hate it. These are words I've almost never uttered about an opera, and it doesn't feel good to be typing them now. The work's overall message - that if we can only see the humanity in our opponents, then we might be able to put an end to the violence of war - rings hollow when the fascism and authoritarianism that rose out of the ashes of the Great War (something the libretto only acknowledges in passing) are looming once again in the 21st century.
There was bile on Tovey's tongue that rang into Roy Thomson Hall, and its effect lingered long enough to dovetail into the first bars of the War Requiem. I have always found something magnetic and charismatic about Tovey, and as silly as it may sound, to hear him indulge in a brief moment of personal feelings about the meaning of war and commemoration felt akin to hearing a friend's firsthand experience with tragedy.
performance. Each instance of the "Dies Irae" theme, in which the chorus competes with a bombastic orchestra, was performed with gusto and confidence. The choir also excelled in its polyphony, with the challenging "Sanctus" and "Libera me" fugue performed well on this night.
But of course, Stephen Salters proved to be the definitive star of the night with the way he played the role of Sganarelle. Salters proved to be an extremely versatile performer whose comedy was absolutely on point throughout the whole, be it from his tasteful vocal colorations in his drinking song to the exasperation towards his near-hanging at the end of the opera.
Following the concert, IRCPA awarded its annual "Career Blueprint" to soprano Sara Schabas, who had wowed the crowd - both live and those watching and listening live on The New Classical FM - with her crystalline singing of a snippet of Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier.