Saturday, May 08, 2010

A Russian Affair

The Sacramento Opera has fallen on hard times and has taken to inventing programs of a fanciful sort. The evening titled A Russian Affair consisted of first a one hour shortened version of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, followed by intermission, followed by a one hour shortened version of Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades. Does this sound at all plausible?

Mayor Kevin Johnson showed up to make things appear more serious and expressed his appreciation for the arts.

So did the idea work? The orchestra and conductor appeared at the back of the stage with TV monitors facing the singers to keep them coordinated with conductor Timm Rolek. Bits of set, like doors, tables, chairs and a long sofa, littered the stage.

There was a narrator, identified as Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin and played by Andrei Codrescu, who filled in the gaps in the story. He filled them in a bit differently from how I remember them, but never mind.

  • There was a soprano, Emily Pulley, who sang Tatyana and Liza.
  • There was a mezzo, Dana Beth Miller, who sang Tatyana's sister Olga and played the Countess.
  • There was a tenor, Richard Crawley, who sang Lensky and Herman.
  • There was a baritone, Malcolm MacKenzie, who sang Onegin and Tomsky.
  • All the other parts were cut.
This saves the expense of sets, chorus and minor players while giving you the one CD highlights version of things.

Emily Pulley is a talented singing actress who was seen here two years ago in The Turn of the Screw. She carried the piece theatrically. Malcolm MacKenzie has a wonderful voice but is quite wooden as an actor.

Do I want to go into detail about each one of them? A highlights version actually ended up making more sense. Onegin is a jerk and as a grown-up married woman Tatyana sees that. Herman is not just a jerk but a lunatic as well, who ends up killing everyone including himself. I missed the Countess's wonderful scene which was inadequately substituted with narration.

I would like to hear more of Dana Beth Miller.

[See Kinderkuchen History 1870-90]

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