Friday, July 28, 2017

The Burning Fiery Furnace
Central City Opera: 7/27 – 8/6
Dean Murphy as the Herald (Photo credit: Amanda Tipton and Central City Opera)

Director Ken Cazan’s slant on Benjamin Britten’s atonal one-act opera, “The Burning Fiery Furnace,” is indelible and unforgettable. With succinct strokes of striking theatrical visuals, he mesmerizes the audience. One of Benjamin Britten’s “parables for church performance", it’s the story from the Book of Daniel about the three Israeli youths who refused to bow down to the golden image of the king, and were thrown into a fiery furnace. The show is done in the Japanese Noh style that Britten favored so much. As such there is exaggerated stage movement as well as an emphasis on percussion and bells.
    The rich, sonorous baritone of Dean Murphy’s performance in the role of the herald is the high point of the evening. Bille Bruley’s tenor singing King Nebuchadnezzar and Zhiguang Hong’s tenor as Abbott/Astrologer follow close behind.
     The three young Israelites are played by Humberto Borboa (Misael), Stephen Clark(Azarias) and Tim Murray(Ananias.) As the angel in the midst of the flames, Louise Rogan is exceptional. These artists, along with a teriffic ensemble of young singers from the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, round out this superb evening of opera.
     In the roles of court "entertainers" Marlen Nahhas and Quinn Middleman are exuberant and funny. When they, along with the other women in the supporting cast are shunned by the monks at final curtain, director Cazan takes a swipe at the Church's anti-feminist stance with power!
     Conductor Christopher Zemliauskas surpassed expectations with his conducting of the outstanding eight-piece orchestra.

    In this reviewer's interesting point of view this production is more Miracle than Morality Play. And the real miracle will be you getting a ticket. I hope you can, but CCO's one-act operas sell out even earlier than those upon the MainStage. 

It will be performed one more time at the Martin Foundry on August 2 at noon.Marlowe's Musings

For tickets go online at or call 303-292-6700

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