Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Logan Operas

Spent a wonderful day in Logan with kids and friends. The occasion was our annual trek to see two performances in one day at the Utah Festival Opera. This year our choices were "Into the Woods" and "Aida". Two very different offerings, indeed, and both extremely well done. I never cease to be amazed at the quality of these productions.

Into the Woods was charming yet dark. We've seen it before, so the story and music was familiar. Outstanding characters included the witch, the baker and wife, Cinderella, and the two princes Charming. The end, of course, brought tears to my eyes when the Baker's wife, now dead, sings her advice to her husband faced with raising their son alone:

Sometimes people leave you
Halfway through the wood.
Do not let it grieve you,
No one leaves for good.
You are not alone.
No one is alone.
I think my heart is stilll too tender for such thoughts.

Aida offered a "lite" staging version but did not scrimp on powerful voices. Our tenor Radames started out a bit weak on the terribly difficult "Celesta, Aida" at the very start, but did not disappoint. Excellent performaces from Amneris, the king, the high priest, and a truly remarkable chorus. But without a doubt, Aida was the star in both name and performance. The ensemble piece at the end of the second act is always my favorite and the beauty of the combined chorus with the soloists, each distinct voice rising about the chorus, was so powerful and moving, you did not want to see it end. The staging was effective with a few huge pieces strategically placed to simulate a palace, a temple, a tomb. If I have a criticism, it is with the not-so-grand procession. Four spear carriers does not a grand procession make, and since it's a non-singing role, I think a few extras would have served nicely. But that did not take away from the music which was so well done.

Between performances we met some good friends for dinner and ice cream and leisurely conversation, rounding out a really great day. We arrived home exhausted after midnight. And we'll do it all again next year.

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