Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Mahler’s Third Symphony launches Prague Symphony Orchestra's UK tour

The Anvil in Basingstoke was the first location for a strenuous seven-concert UK tour by the Prague Symphony Orchestra - a venue-hopping trip, criss-crossing the country from Hampshire to Wales, with four northern cities and a pit-stop in London spliced between Edinburgh and Nottingham.

Rigoletto past, present and future: a muddled production by Christiane Lutz for Glyndebourne Touring Opera

Charlie Chaplin was a master of slapstick whose rag-to-riches story - from workhouse-resident clog dancer to Hollywood legend with a salary to match his status - was as compelling as the physical comedy that he learned as a member of Fred Karno’s renowned troupe.

Rinaldo Through the Looking-Glass: Glyndebourne Touring Opera in Canterbury

Robert Carsen’s production of Rinaldo, first seen at Glyndebourne in 2011, gives a whole new meaning to the phrases ‘school-boy crush’ and ‘behind the bike-sheds’.

Predatory power and privilege in WNO's Rigoletto at the Birmingham Hippodrome

At a party hosted by a corrupt and dissolute political leader, wealthy patriarchal predators bask in excess, prowling the room on the hunt for female prey who seem all too eager to trade their sexual favours for the promise of power and patronage. ‘Questa o quella?’ the narcissistic host sings, (this one or that one?), indifferent to which woman he will bed that evening, assured of impunity.

Virginie Verrez captivates in WNO's Carmen at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Jo Davies’ new production of Carmen for Welsh National Opera presents not the exotic Orientalism of nineteenth-century France, nor a tale of the racial ‘Other’, feared and fantasised in equal measure by those whose native land she has infiltrated.

Die Zauberflöte brings mixed delights at the Royal Opera House

When did anyone leave a performance of Mozart’s Singspiel without some serious head scratching?

Haydn's La fedeltà premiata impresses at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama

‘Exit, pursued by an octopus.’ The London Underground insignia in the centre of the curtain-drop at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Silk Street Theatre, advised patrons arriving for the performance of Joseph Haydn’s La fedeltà premiata (Fidelity Rewarded, 1780) that their Tube journey had terminated in ‘Arcadia’ - though this was not the pastoral idyll of Polixenes’ Bohemia but a parody of paradise more notable for its amatory anarchy than any utopian harmony.

Van Zweden conducts an unforgettable Walküre at the Concertgebouw

When native son Jaap van Zweden conducts in Amsterdam the house sells out in advance and expectations are high. Last Saturday, he returned to conduct another Wagner opera in the NTR ZaterdagMatinee series. The Concertgebouw audience was already cheering the maestro loudly before anyone had played a single note. By the end of this concert version of Die Walküre, the promise implicit in the enthusiastic greeting had been fulfilled. This second installment of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung was truly memorable, and not just because of Van Zweden’s imprint.

Purcell for our time: Gabrieli Consort & Players at St John's Smith Square

Passing the competing Union and EU flags on College Green beside the Palace of Westminster on my way to St John’s Smith Square, where Paul McCreesh’s Gabrieli Consort & Players were to perform Henry Purcell’s 1691 'dramatic opera' King Arthur, the parallels between England now and England then were all too evident.

The Dallas Opera Cockerel: It’s All Golden

I greatly enjoyed the premiere of The Dallas Opera’s co-production with Santa Fe Opera of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel when it debuted at the latter in the summer festival of 2018.

Luisa Miller at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its second production of the current season Lyric Opera of Chicago is featuring Giuseppe Verdi’s Luisa Miller.

Philip Glass: Music with Changing Parts - European premiere of revised version

Philip Glass has described Music with Changing Parts as a transitional work, its composition falling between earlier pieces like Music in Fifths and Music in Contrary Motion (both written in 1969), Music in Twelve Parts (1971-4) and the opera Einstein on the Beach (1975). Transition might really mean aberrant or from no-man’s land, because performances of it have become rare since the very early 1980s (though it was heard in London in 2005).

Wexford Festival Opera 2019

The 68th Wexford Festival Opera, which runs until Sunday 3rd November, is bringing past, present and future together in ways which suggest that the Festival is in good health, and will both blossom creatively and stay true to its roots in the years ahead.

Cenerentola, jazzed to the max

Seattle Opera’s current staging of Cenerentola is mostly fun to watch. It is also a great example of how trying too hard to inflate a smallish work to fill a huge auditorium can make fun seem more like work.

Bottesini’s Alì Babà Keeps Them Laughing

On Friday evening October 25, 2019, Opera Southwest opened its 47th season with composer Giovanni Bottesini and librettist Emilio Taddei’s Alì Babà in a version reconstructed from the original manuscript score by Conductor Anthony Barrese.

Ovid and Klopstock clash in Jurowski’s Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’

There were two works on this London Philharmonic Orchestra programme given by Vladimir Jurowski – Colin Matthews’s Metamorphosis and Gustav Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’. The way Jurowski played it, however, one might have been forgiven for thinking we were listening to a new work by Mahler, something which may not have been lost on those of us who recalled that Matthews had collaborated with Deryck Cooke on the completion of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony.

Birtwistle's The Mask of Orpheus: English National Opera

‘All opera is Orpheus,’ Adorno once declared - although, typically, what he meant by that was rather more complicated than mere quotation would suggest. Perhaps, in some sense, all music in the Western tradition is too - again, so long as we take care, as Harrison Birtwistle always has, never to confuse starkness with over-simplification.

The Marriage of Figaro in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera rolled out the first installment of its new Mozart/DaPonte trilogy, a handsome Nozze, by Canadian director Michael Cavanagh to lively if mixed result.

Little magic in Zauberland at the ROH's Linbury Theatre

To try to conceive of Schumann’s Dichterliebe as a unified formal entity is to deny the song cycle its essential meaning. For, its formal ambiguities, its disintegrations, its sudden breaks in both textual image and musical sound are the very embodiment of the early Romantic aesthetic of fragmentation.

Donizetti's Don Pasquale packs a psychological punch at the ROH

Is Donizetti’s Don Pasquale a charming comedy with a satirical punch, or a sharp psychological study of the irresolvable conflicts of human existence?

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Marnie Breckenridge as the Mother and Lauren Worsham as Lisa [Photo by Greg Grudt]
19 Jun 2015

Dog Days at REDCAT

On Saturday evening June 13, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Dog Days, a new opera with music by David T. Little and a text by Royce Vavrek. In the opera adopted from a story of the same name by Judy Budnitz, thirteen-year-old Lisa tells of her family’s mental and physical disintegration resulting from the ravages of a horrendous war.

Dog Days at REDCAT

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Marnie Breckenridge as the Mother and Lauren Worsham as Lisa

Photos by Greg Grudt

 

On Saturday evening June 13, 2015, Los Angeles Opera presented Dog Days, a new opera with music by David T. Little and a text by Royce Vavrek. Audiences had already seen the work in Montclair, New Jersey, and Fort Worth, Texas. Los Angeles Opera presented it at the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT), a tiny black box theater located in Walt Disney Hall. In the opera adopted from a story of the same name by Judy Budnitz, thirteen-year-old Lisa tells of her family’s mental and physical disintegration resulting from the ravages of a horrendous war.

Baritone James Bobick sings the part of her harried father who would have provided for his wife and children if he could. Since that was not possible, his emotions turned to anger. Although he walked around with a gun, there were no animals to hunt. Bobick’s part was huge and he sang it with gusto even though most of it was declamatory. His wife, sung by Marnie Breckenridge, tried to keep up appearances, but that, too, was impossible.

Dog-Days-15206-085.pngJames Bobick as the Father

Except for a harmonized prayer before each of the family’s scant meals, the orchestral instruments seldom backed up the vocal line. Thus, the voices often lacked the support of traditional opera accompaniment. The Newspeak Orchestra, conducted by Alan Pierson, consisted of clarinet, guitar, piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, and percussion team. This unusual group of instruments produced some interesting sonorities that were most effective in the instrumental interludes.

If your idea of opera is melodic music sung unamplified by some of the world’s most beautiful voices, Dog Days is not for you. Garth MacAleavey’s sound engineering amplified the voices as well as the noise and vibrations of a helicopter, which brought the family food, water and blankets. I wished Little had chosen to write his musical impression of a helicopter instead of using the actual sounds.

Lauren Worsham gave a magnificent interpretation of the teenaged Lisa who carefully chronicled this horrific story, knowing all the time that those who were most likely to read it had already died. Strangely, there were no supertitles shown except for a short space of time when Lisa wrote to a friend who might no longer have been living. Perhaps Lisa is a fictional Anne Frank for post apocalyptic times. As the reader can see by now, there is little uplifting about this opera.

Dog-Days-Photo-Greg-Grudt-15206-116.pngJohn Kelly as the Dog

The Dog, played by actor John Kelly, is actually a young man who wears a dog suit and crawls around on all fours. After a while, he seemed more human than the people. The least savory family members were Lisa’s two brothers, Elliott, sung by Michael Marcotte, and Pat, played by Peter Tantsits. They spent the last days of their lives smoking pot and looking at pornography.

The one scene that brought out some emotional reactions from the audience occurred when Lisa realized her mother had died. She looked at the dirt on her mother’s face and began to wash the body in an attempt to give her mother a decent burial. A moment later the helicopter noise and vibration was back and the emotional impact vanished. David T. Little has the makings of an interesting composer. I hope he will continue to write for the voice, possibly having learned some lessons from this opera.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Father, James Bobick; Mother, Marnie Breckenridge; Captain, Cherry Duke; Dog, John Kelly (actor); Elliott, Michael Marcotte; Soldier, Steve Polites; Pat, Peter Tantsits; Lisa, Lauren Worsham; Creative Producer, Beth Morrison; Director, Robert Woodruff; Scenic and Video Design, Jim Findlay; Lighting Design, Christopher Kuhl; Costume Design, Victoria “Vita”; Tzykun; Sound engineering, Garth MacAleavey; Musical Direction, Alan Pierson; Newspeak Ensemble.

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):