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Split personality. Liking the arts, especially opera, and hockey and Los Toros. I know, I know THAT one is non pc currently. But I can't help it saw some in Spain and got hooked, but good. But on the other hand right now opera and hockey are in the forefront!


Monday, January 30, 2012

Tartuffe equals guffaws

Yes, it's true.
This comic opera really made us chuckle, laugh aroar. Too amusing by far!
But also has some rather lyrical pieces such as this one presented in recital.
University of Houston Moores School of Music presented American Composer Kirke Mechem (1925- )'s Tartuffe based on the play by Moliere. Sung by students of the School with real energy as seen 1/29 (last performance).
The composer/librettist was present at the pre-curtain talk. He admitted candidly inserting several phrases from operas and works of masters he admires: Mozart, Wagner, Beethoven to just name a few. He also mentioned in a chat with us later, that his time in Vienna in the 50's and a 60's  had influenced him immeasurably to compose and write this opera the way he did. Having a living and breathing (and he was incredibly YOUNG  looking at 78!) composer to ask questions of, was an extra bonus greatly appreciated. How else would I have found out that my Wiener Luft (Vienna's air) was so influential to him :-)! Mechem managed well to follow in Mozart's footsteps as comic music composer with tongue-in-cheek humor! At least with this piece.
And it worked!
Having young singers with considerable histrionic talents helped, too!

Most slapstick acting combined with impressive singing came from Brandon Grimes, the Tartuffe on Sunday. To huge approbation by the enthusiastic, mostly young, audience. Who seemed to truly enjoy this musical spoof.
Meghan Garvin, Marianne (Orgon's daughter), and Nicole Woodward, Elmire (Orgon's  second wife) sang AND acted beautifully throughout. 
Kelly Balmaceda was a chirpy coloratura soprano suited to the role of  Dorine, the wise maid (surely based on Blonde by Mozart from his ABDUCTION)...was she sorta channelling Kathleen Battle?
James Rodriguez as Orgon managed with sonorous aplomb the pomposity and stubbornness this role requires. And caused quite a few laughs while doing so.
Tyler Tucker (Damis-Orgon's son) and Nicholas DeMeo (Valere-Marianne's lover)
were more than adequate in their portrayals.
Madame Pernelle, (Orgon's Mother) sung by steely voiced Devyn Werner provided more comic relief!
Laurence, Tartuffe's, and Flipote, Mme Pernelle's servants were silent roles.
The small orchestra (just 14 members) half of them wind instruments was ably conducted by Jake Sustaita.
Stage Director, and former opera singer, David Ward directed the cast with a sensitive feel for comedy.
Set design and bright lighting by Thom Guthrie; Richard Walsh designed the modern (1920's era) costumes.
Mechem's music, is accessible, tonal though in a more modern way. 
Other works, primarily vocal music, are: 
The Operas: John Brown (drama inspired by abolitionists), The Rivals, (based on Sheridan's play) , Pride and Prejudice  (Jane Austin the inspiration for it)and choral works such as this


Anonymous said...

It was also my good fortune to have attended this classic light Opera over the weekend.

Apparently, the Opera has been presented in 6 different countries (Russia, Germany, Austria, USA, Canada, and France) over a generation, still attracting large, diverse audiences.....a tribute to the "youthful" composer.

artandhockey said...

OOOps, he is 87 not 78... he really just looks so young.