Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Central City Opera: 7/14 – 8/7

L-R: Jonathan Burton, Alexandra Loutsion and Michael Mayes

Central City Opera’s production of Puccini’s “Tosca” is one of the most exhilarating evenings of Grand Opera in memory.

     All the principals deliver powerful performances in both the singing and the acting. Even the vocals of the political prisoner, Angelloti (Stephen Clark) and the Sacristan (Donald Hartmann) are memorable. (When can one ever remembering being able to say that?)

     The top notch cast stars Alexandra Loutsion as the jealous diva, Floria Tosca, Michael Mayes as Baron Scarpia, the most heinous villain in the repertoire, and Jonathan Burton as the unfortunate painter, Cavaradossi. You will remember Mr. Mayes for his outstanding portrayal of Joseph de Rocher, the frightening death row inmate in CCO’s production of "Dead Man Walking"two seasons ago.
     Joachim Schamberger’s excellent stage direction brings the suspense in Act Two to a fever pitch as Scarpia closes in on Tosca. Schamberger, who also did the set and projection design, must receive high praise in these realms as well. Schamberger spent last summer shooting the actual locations for the opera in Europe. Enhanced by David Martin Jacques’ masterful contribution in the lighting design, the result is visual magnificence.
     Jacques uses a technique akin to a wipe in cinematic terms, which gives one the impression of ink spilling over certain projections.  The result heightens the drama even as it corresponds to the breathtaking transitions in Puccini’s score.
     Maestro John Baril conducts the luscious Central City Opera orchestra with such vital potency that the results are breathtaking.
     Susan Memmott Allred’s period costumes, especially those for Ms. Loutsion, are dazzlers.Marlowe's Musings

Locations: Central City Opera House, Central City, Colorado
For tickets call 303-292-6500 or go online at www.centralcityopera.org

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers
The Edge Theatre: 7/ 15 - 7/31
  Emma Messenger( Photo Credit: Rachel Graham/RDG Photography

"If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.”

    Director Josh Hartwell has cast this property well by starring Emma Messenger as Sue Mengers.

    Messenger portrays the renowned Hollywood agent, Sue Mengers in John Logan’s one-person show, “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers,” now on view at The Edge Theater.
     As the agent of such stars as Barbra Streisand, Messenger commands the stage, holding court for us “poor lambs from Segundo or some such place.”
     From time to time, enthroned upon her couch, she calls disdainfully upon one of the audience members to hand her a dish or bring her a decanter of wine.  
        Messenger is delicious at delivering that “peel me a grape” brand of sarcasm one remembers from those Mae West films of the thirties.
     It’s certain that Messenger relishes the dirt dishing about such motion picture stars as Gene Hackman, Faye Dunaway and Jane Fonda. Her undoing of the previously unblemished reputation of Steve McQueen with regard to his relationship with Ali McGraw is fascinating.
      The sarcasm is corrosive and the lampooning caustic. John Logan’s script allows us to really get intimate with this once timid, “fat little eight-year-old Jewess”, who left Hitler’s Germany to become a huge success as an Agent in the Hollywood of the seventies and eighties.
     Mengers’ abrasive criticism of the movie stars whose careers she built is both funny and scathingly honest. That all of these artists, whose careers she helped forge, left her one by one, saddens one. The profanity and dissing of same feels like a buffer for her bruised ego and emotions. She considered them all to be family.
A one-woman show starring CTG Henry Award winner Emma Messenger
July 15 – August 6, 2016
Fridays, Saturdays and Monday, July 25 at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 6 p.m. (closing Sunday, July 31 at 2 p.m.).
75 minutes / No Intermission
For tickets please call 303-232-0363  or go online at theedgetheater.comMarlowe's Musings

The Edge Theater is located at 1560 Teller Street in Lakewood, CO.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Ballad of Baby Doe
Central City Opera: July 9 through August 6

L-R: Susanne Mentzer, Grant Youngblood and Anna Christy (Photo Credit: Kira Horvath, provided by Central City Opera)

 In 1956 Central City Opera premiered an opera which it had commissioned entitled “The Ballad of Baby Doe.” That opera, composed by Douglas Moore and with libretto by John Larouche,  is being revived this summer in repertory with Giacomo Puccini’s "Tosca." 
     It’s the 60th anniversary of its premiere and this season’s production is visually magnificent! Peppered with American folk tunes, Mr. Moore’s composition is one of the best liked in the repertoire of the American opera. It’s the quintessential riches to rags scenario set at the height of the Colorado mining boom.
     Lighting maestro David Martin Jacques has headed up the technical end of this production in which projections of the actual locations are seen as backdrop for the singers. These not only include the colorful mining town exteriors, but also vistas featuring Colorado’s skies. One must be aware of the happiness of those backstage. Having seen them have to drag the gargantuan set piece describing The Clarendon Hotel on and offstage in the last productions, they must be doing cartwheels and hand stands knowing that this is all taken care of by Mr. Jacques. The few pieces of furniture required for this production are whisked on and off with true professional alacrity.

Anna Christy’s ribbon of silk soprano soars magnificently as Baby Doe. Grant Youngblood’s resonant baritone delivers a strong and arrogant Horace. Susan Mentzer was effective in the role of Augusta, but had not yet achieved the fire provided by Joyce Castle, her predecessor in the role. Ms. Mentzer, who has sung in the Met’s “Le Nozze di Figaro,” will, one is certain, deliver her own firebrand reading by next weekend. In supporting roles Donald Hartmann sang with exceptional brio as William Jennings Bryan. Sarah Barber’s mezzo soprano is most memorable as Mama McCourt.

Ken Cazan’s direction, which has us viewing the story as scenes flashing before the eyes of the dying Baby Doe, conveys a truly haunting vision of the opera. Conductor Timothy Myers paced the proceedings in such a way that the orchestra below and the singers onstage were in perfect alignment. Sara Jean Tosetti’s costumes are eye-poppers.

Locations: Central City Opera House, Central City, Colorado
For tickets call 303-292-6500 or go online at www.centralcityopera.org