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Subject: Re: Wash Natl Opera's forceful FILLE du REGIMENT operns with RBG getting raves and bravos with grace (11-12-16)
From: Akimon <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Akimon <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 14 Nov 2016 12:06:24 -0500

text/plain (175 lines)

This was a real treat! I was really impressed by the cast. Lawrence Brownlee is a 
sensational singer and he makes it all sound so easy. Lisette Oropessa's voice is wonderful, 
such pure and limpid sound and spot on coloratura. Everybody else was great, too, but 
Notorious RBG stole the show. The Dutchess lines about "honesty and integrity of someone 
occupying such high station" were greeted enthusiastically but I wonder what Newt 
Gingrich, sitting in one of the front rows, made of that?

On Sun, 13 Nov 2016 13:56:55 -0500, Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Last night the Washington National Opera unveiled its new production of Daughter of the 
Regiment with a superb cast and an adorable production that truly impressed, but there was 
no question that the operatic debut of Supreme Court Justice Ruth bader Ginsburg as the 
Duchess of Krakenthorp (she had previously appeared only as s super!) was the center of 
the evenings post-operatic chat.
>The opera continues through next weekend with alternating casts
>Lawrence Brownlee (Nov. 12, 14, 16, 18, 20)
>Andrew Stenson (Nov. 13, 17, 19)
>Lisette Oropesa (Nov. 12, 14, 16, 18, 20)
>Andriana Chuchman (Nov. 13, 17, 19)
>Kevin Burdette
>The Marquise of Birkenfeld:
>Deborah Nansteel 
>The Duchess of Krakenthorp:
>Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Nov. 12 only)
>Cindy Gold (Nov. 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20)
>Timothy J. Bruno
>Hunter Enoch
>Dancing Master:
>Randy Snight
>Conductor: Christopher Allen
>Director and Choreographer: Robert Longbottom
>Set Designer: James Noone
>Costume Designer: Zack Brown
>Lighting Designer: Mark McCullough
>Hair and Makeup Designer: Anne Ford-Coates for Elsen Associates
>Movement Director: Courtney Young
>I have to mention that the Overture was beautifully executed and Maestro Allen in a debut 
gave a very good impression. During this time however, the pit lights lit him in such a way 
that his shadows were moving across the sides of the opera house as if from something out 
of Fantasia!
>I first noticed the program listing for "Costumes" and was mystified that the superlative 
Zack Brown had returned to DC after an almost two decade absence, but was later told that 
these were recycled costumes from his past production (with additions and changes), which 
was just fine.
>The set by James Noone was simple at first and could have used a bit more for Act I which 
had two two-dimensional evergreen cutouts at the rear left, a Madonna with candles at the 
front for the townsfolk to pray at (which was rolled off quickly), and a large cutout circle at 
the rear through which we saw an Alpine back painting of mountains, some buildings and 
more two-dimensional trees. A pile of "rock stairs" was in front of the oval and the cast 
mounted these to enter into the "cutout" at the rear which had staircases on each side. 
While basic, it was quite cute. In the second act, we had a lavish salon with four sets of 
paired white gilded columns, a piano to one side, two hooded chairs on wheel and through 
the oval a grand staircase leading to double doors to outside at the rear; this was quite 
elegant and worked so well. Ms. Nansteel's Marquise is rolled on atop luggage on a luggage 
cart dressed in an overly frilly dress and feathered hat and gives us a wonderfully over 
"afectée" "Pour une femme with extra trills and highs for effect.
>After she departs for refuge, 3 small tents with French flags appear and Ms. Oropesa's 
Marie enters with a tomboy haircut in a long white (undergarment-like) gown that had 
legged culottes to the ground. Our soldiers are led by Mr. Burdette's Sulpice in red, white 
and blue military garb with tall plumed hats and golden epaulettes for the sergeant. From 
their opening duet we knew that this was going to be a remarkable Marie and she excelled 
at every note, but also gave the role superb character that I have rarely seen heretofore. 
Mr. Burdette's firm deep voice was also just right, and it was hard to believe it has taken 
him so long to come back for a company debut after being here at Wolf Trap so long ago!
>Her "Chacun le sait" was a tour de force for the regimental song and she donned a cape 
first and ultimately ended up in military garb and hat similar to her "fathers."
>Mr. Brownlee's Tonio was in lederhosen and feathered cap and he was barred from Marie 
by an 18-member male chorus with another half dozen military supers which filled the stage 
well. The opening duet for the lovers, "Depuis le temps..." had them in perfect sync, which 
never gave up for the entire show; this is indeed the most perfect pair I have ever seen in 
this opera--they belong together. Every high note shone and it was indeed a great musical 
>When it came time for Mr. Brownlee to show off, his "Ah mes amis..." had every high note 
milked perfectly and absolutely spot on. His final "militaire" garnered him some of the 
biggest applause I have heard in this theater for among time (well, at least until RBG 
entered in Act II).
>The gorgeous largo "Il faut partir..." is truly a special aria and director Robert Longbottom 
chose to take a novel approach by having Marie walk down the line of men from the 
regiment each proffering a childhood memento such as a doll or teddy bear. Unfortunately, 
the approach backfired with the last soldier pulling out a pair of baby shoes and getting an 
horrible guffaw or screech from one or more audience members that totally broke the lovely 
line of this sombre moment.
>When I returned to my seat I discovered that the lady in front of me was again (alas) the 
lady who loves to flip her long hair back in my face. Luckily, she had a coat on the chair in 
back of her so I got no hair in my mouth or face this time around!
>As I mentioned the set was gorgeous for Act II and was chock full of extras as footmen 
and maids. The two hooded chairs are at the sides turned to the back as Marie comes down 
the grand staircase in a flimsy ballerina white costume with the brilliant Dancing Master 
attempting to keep her in line. There were some funny moves here and ultimately Marie 
grabs his staff as she goes into the regimental march.
>The two chairs were then turned around revealing the Marquise in one and RBG as the 
Duchess in the other; the applause went on for quite some time. She then delivered a 
monologue about the qualifications for the woman who is to marry the Duke which included 
many points that got massive applause and whoops from the audience including "open, but 
not empty minds." This homage to women was beautifully written by Kelley Rourke along 
with the Justice and truly got the audience going, especially after this week's election. The 
Duchess then demanded the bride be of perfect lineage and would need to produce a birth 
certificate, which had us all in stitches, as the Marquise looked on in horror, realizing this 
was not possible due to the child's extenuating birth circumstances.
>The Duchess left in a huff as coach/pianist Michael Baitzer took the piano for Marie's 
"music lesson," as Sulpice drank from his flask and tried desperately to make a cushion on a 
pouf at the right fit back into the sofa. The lesson had Marie unfolding the music across the 
entire stage like an accordion and ultimately she pulled the music from the piano in a 
similar way. She also mock strangled herself with a scarf she had on a la Isadora Duncan. 
This was followed by her gorgeous second plaintive aria in the opera and the offstage band 
welcoming the regiment. "Salut a la France..." had more clean crisp high notes again from 
Ms. Oropesa, who never faltered at any moment throughout the evening and we were then 
treated to some adorable choreography for "Tous les trois..." the reunion trio for Tonio, 
Sulpice & Marie.
>Mr. Brownlee's ensuing aria "Pour me rapprocher de Marie.." had new meaning from this 
amazing tenor. I really felt for him and was blown away when he hit his high notes on "s'il 
me fallait."
>RBG comes back and ultimately delivers one line, "Quelle scandale!!" which got some 
laughs as the finale ensued with the reprise of "Salut a la France."
>If you like Donizetti, high notes, shorter works (this rings in at under 2-3/4 hours with 
intermission) or any of these talented artists then you really need to check out this short 
run with six more performances in this one upcoming week!
>ALAN SAVADA of Washington, DC
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