Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia performed two one acters tonight in
Arlington, VA and there were wonderful moments.
Lee Hoiby's BON APPETIT which premiered with Jean Stapleton as The Chef (aka
JULIA CHILD) in 1989 at the Kennedy Center never really took off in the
operatic world. Until tonight, it has always been performed with only a
piano. Tonight was the full orchestral premiere under the baton of lister John
The Chef was played by local mezzo-soprano DANA KRUEGER, who is always a
delight as a singer and actress. The opera is under twenty minutes long and
really comes off as a long semi-comical English art-song. It was performed
without "cooking" props, although a chocolate cake appeared at the end. The
cake was not soft and buttery like a souffle, as the opera called for, but
hard as a rock. It was quite funny, when Dana couldn't cut it!!
Personally, I enjoyed the work, but wouldn't rave about the music itself. On
the other hand, I never miss a chance to see or hear Dana Krueger, and this
was worth it.
Douglas Moore's THE DEVIL & DANIEL WEBSTER is a more invloved work of about 50
minutes and has some magnificent orchestrations. Unfortunately, mcuh of the
work is spoken (with orchestra) and tends to sound somewhat like Copeland's
Lincoln Portrait. The set was minimal, but not bad...just some New Hampshire
granite-like blocks and a table. The chorus was quite poor in the opening
scene and it was hard to believe same singers were the jury in the trial
scene. They completely transformed into a different and quite good group of
singers. Go figure?
David Neal as Daniel Webster was clearly chosen for his oratory quality. He
spoke beautifully and had a true "great statesman" stature. His singing,
however sounded a bit hoarse at times. The defendant, Jabez Stone, was played
by David Brundage who, on the other hand, stood like a stick in the mud for
the entire opera. He seemed to ahve little acting capability and not much more
singing capability. The two standout voices of the evening were Lara Colby's
Mary Stone and Doug Bowles' Mr. Scratch (the Devil). Lara sang sweetly
throughout, though her diction was garbled at times since the music is soooo
high. She performs often locally and I wish she would get chunkier roles like
this. Doug Bowles looked and acted the devil and his high tenor voice rang
out throughout. Admittedly he overemoted at times, but the part seems to call
for it--a handsomely devilish fellow.
The weather here in DC is very stormy with flooding all over and traffic jams,
thunder and lightning. The Arlington crownd tends to be older folks and they
stayed home tonight to keep dry. I heard that even one violinist missed the
first opera due to floods and traffic. Hopefully, the repeat performance
Sunday at 3PM will fill more of the house. These are two pieces that you may
never get to see...so go if you can....it is well worth it.
Tommorrow night:CARMEN in BALTIMORE
ALAN J. SAVADA, C.T.C.
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<<If you ask me what I came into this world to do,
I will tell you I came to live out loud>>--Emile Zola
****************LIFE IS A CABERNET!