Mozart’s Così fan tutte is a delicate work, finely balancing a cynical and psychologically disturbing libretto with some of the composer’s most lyrical and beguiling music. Yet Jonathan Miller’s misguided and gimmicky modern-dress production at the Washington National Opera forsakes complexity in favor of a kind of smug cleverness, offering a sniggering and sardonic take on the opera with little finesse or genuine insight.
The Merce Cunningham Dance Company, performing at the Kennedy Center this past weekend as part of its farewell tour, offered a thrilling program of three contrasting works that made a persuasive case for Cunningham’s enduring importance as a revolutionary choreographer. It was also a highly entertaining evening, full of poetry, humor, generosity of spirit, and sheer, visceral excitement.
Krapp’s Last Tape, Samuel Beckett’s bleak and despairing play about the construction of individual identity in the face of time and mortality, is receiving a brilliant and unforgettable staging in the hands of British actor John Hurt and director Michael Colgan. This production, first staged at the Gate Theatre in Ireland, is playing a limited run at the Shakespeare Theatre Company and offers a meticulously constructed, unsparing, and deeply moving interpretation of Beckett reflecting the highest order of theatrical mastery.
In my review of the opening night cast of the Washington National Opera’s Lucia di Lammermoor, I judged David Alden’s production to be dramatically uneven while reserving particular praise for soprano Sarah Coburn. The production’s second cast, which concluded its run on Saturday, November 19, 2011, made a more consistent and persuasive case for the human [...]
For its second production of the season, the Washington National Opera is offering a daringly revisionist interpretation of Donizetti’s bel canto classic, Lucia di Lammermoor. Director David Alden presents Luciaas a case study of early Victorian sexual politics and psychopathology, with the action set in the dark recesses of the Victorian literary imagination. At the [...]
Synetic Theater has opened its latest season with a remounting of its acclaimed 2007 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a wordless, movement-driven production of visionary intensity and startling originality. The multiple Helen Hayes Award-winning troupe has developed a highly stylized, viscerally thrilling brand of physical theater that brings together elements of dance, mime, physical comedy, acrobatics, [...]
Puccini’s Tosca is one of the most supremely theatrical operas in the repertory, full of raw emotionalism and unrelenting in its dramatic tension. At its heart, the opera is a fierce battle of wills between the passionate diva Floria Tosca and the reactionary Papal State police chief Scarpia’s cynical corruption. In the Washington National Opera’s season [...]
In the hands of an all-Australian cast, a Hungarian director with limited English, and an adaptor who doesn’t read Russian, Anton Chekhov’s play, Uncle Vanya, emerges as a farcical study of dysfunction and desperation. The Sydney Theatre Company, which opened its sole U.S. engagement Saturday at the Kennedy Center, offers an energetic, darkly comic, if [...]
Few musicals written for the Broadway stage have found as lasting a home in opera houses worldwide as Sweeney Todd, Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 musical thriller. Sondheim’s masterful score, able to evoke the grandest of human passions, certainly has the epic scale to sustain the most ambitious of operatic productions. Alas, the Wolf Trap Opera Company’s [...]