Saturday, February 11, 2017
Conductor: Nicole Paiement
Director: Brian Staufenbiel
Refugee (countertenor) Tai Oney
Controller (soprano) Nikki Einfeld
Bill (tenor) Chaz'men Williams-Ali
Tina, Bill's wife (soprano) Amina Edris
Stewardess (mezzo-soprano) Maya Yahav Gour
Older Woman (contralto) Catherine Cook
Steward (baritone) Hadleigh Adams
Minskman (baritone) Eugene Brancoveanu
Minskwoman (mezzo-soprano) Renée Rapier
Immigration Officer (bass-baritone) Philip Skinner
I enjoyed very much the opera Flight, 1999, by Jonathan Dove presented by Opera Parallèle in San Francisco. It is that rarest of modern operas: a comedy. For some reason people have come to think of opera as serious, people dying serious.
So you aren't sure what to think when two of the characters, refugee and Bill, are injured and fall seemingly dead to the floor. The characters don't quite know what to do either, and look for somewhere to hide the bodies. "Not another one!"
You can think of this as things going on at airports, in this case any random airport. There is a refugee who is trapped inside the airport. He is waiting for his brother who has all the documents. So he spends his time staring at the controller and teasing the other passengers. His brother has met with a tragic end. The immigration officer decides to let the refugee remain in the airport forever.
Bill and Tina are going on vacation hoping to revive their fading romance.
The steward and stewardess spend all their spare time getting it on and/or looking for a place to get it on. This was somewhat more integrated into the opera than fake sex generally is these days. Sometimes they just get it on and don't really care if anyone is watching. Steward gets bored with stewardess and looks for entertainment elsewhere. He and Bill exchange clothing. Bill is whacked in the head by his wife, deservedly so IMHO.
Minskman and Minskwoman are a diplomat's family on their way to a new assignment in Minsk. Minskwoman is pregnant and changes her mind about leaving.
The opera reminded me a tiny bit of Rossini's The Voyage to Reims. This is all appropriately chaotic and often funny. My only problem was that events often went on at the same time, so if you were watching one, you might completely miss the other and end up wondering what happened.
This excellent cast is from not quite everywhere. Egypt. New Zealand. Renée Rapier was my favorite.
It is astounding that they happen to have decided to present an opera about a refugee in the middle of our own refugee crisis.