Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Review of Opera on Tap and New World Productions' Shadows, Stories and Songs

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Shadows, Stories and Songs. It was two short pieces: The Guest at the Sevillano Inn by Jacinto Guerrero with a libretto by Enrique Reoyo and Juan Ignacio Luca de Tena and Master Peter's Puppet Show by Manuel de Falla. Both were based on writing by Miguel de Cervantes. Melissa Segarra directed The Guest at the Sevillano Inn and Myra Su directed Master Peter's Puppet Show. The first one was about a man named Juan Luís (Jesús Alfredo Jiménez Jiménez) and he was in love with this woman named Raquel (Alana Grossman), who was a beautiful maiden. But an evil man (Daniel Johansen) kidnaps her and Juan Luís has to go and rescue her. The second one was a shadow puppet show about a woman who was locked up in a tower and a man stole a kiss from her so he was dragged away and put in jail. But then her husband comes and rescues her and they ride away on a horse. I think it is a good idea to have low-budget opera because then people who can't afford to see the Lyric Opera show could come and see this.

I thought that all the singers were talented and had nice voices. I felt like that was a really good aspect of the show. The music actually sounds like you are in an actual opera house. I preferred the music of The Guest at the Sevillano Inn more than Master Peter's Puppet Show. I thought there was a lot more variety in the first one; it had more different kinds of songs that I liked. In the second one, I felt like the music was a little more repetitive and had less humor. My favorite song was from the first one: Si tu fueras pastora. It was all about sheep! It was sung by Rodrigo (Joachim Luis), the squire of Juan Luís, and Constancica (Erin Moll,) the maid at the inn. I felt like the song was funny and they kept making the sheep noises, which I thought was pretty funny. It is like the funniest, cutest little love song ever. I thought it was great that the comic relief characters had a song together. Rodrigo was my favorite character. I thought that he was very good and funny.

There were, however, a few problems with the show. For one of the things, I thought that the directors didn't seem to help the actors do what they needed to do to make the characters believable. Usually in opera you are going to a large space to see a larger than life character, but in such a small space then you feel like the characters should be a little less big and a little more intimate because they are talking directly to you. One of the problems with how the story was told was that when The Guest at the Sevillano Inn was going on, they wouldn't show any of the excited moments; the narrator just told you about them. Like I would have liked to have seen the people dressing up like monks and the big rescue mission and that big sword fight, but instead they just told you about them. I felt like the sword was very very unrealistic, which I don't blame them for because they are a very small theater company, but they treated it like it was this big amazing weapon which I found kind of distracting because it was an important part of the story and you could see it flopping around when it was supposed to be all heroic. I also felt like it didn't seem like the people who did the show knew a lot about puppets because their puppeteering was not top-notch. At one point a horse ran away from the riders, which didn't seem like part of the story, especially because they kept on riding the invisible horse that there was not anymore. When Don Quijote (Salvador Pérez) destroys the puppet show, it is not supposed to be because the puppetry is bad but because they get a fact wrong about there being bells in minarets.

People who would like this show are people who like good singing, low-budget opera, and sheep. I think it is cool that they are doing these shows that aren't done very often and share them with people all over the city.

Photos: Dan Johanson

No comments: