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Age cannot wither (Curtis Opera’s Antony & Cleo)

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file0452Samuel Barber’s
Antony & Cleopatra
The Curtis Opera Theatre (in association with Opera Company of Philadelphia & the Kimmel Center)
Perelman Theatre
March 17, 19, 21

Samuel Barber’s alma mater has done him proud. Curtis Opera Theatre’s sold out Antony & Cleopatra at the Perelman is arresting: Fine singing, yes. A design that takes the breath. Light simplifies us, Derek Woolcott says. Opera’s funny that way. The clearer you see, better you hear. The simplicity of Lenore Doxee’s light summons the Nile without a barge or pyramid. Chas Rader Shieber’ and David Zinn’s staging reflects sea and sun onto walls that look like stainless steel. The Opera Company of Philadelphia, who co-produces should borrow this team, pronto.
The Kimmel Center is also a sponsor.

Allison Sanders opens her mouth and a geyser pours up and out. The high notes have ping. Cleopatra’s high-wire challenges were ravishing. The soprano’s Mark Antony was bass baritone Brendon Cedel, big voice, lots of emotion. Both young singers are still awkward actors, give them time. Not so, baritone Evan Boyer’s whose grasp of Enobarbus – the loyalties, the conflicts – is near ideal. The voice is splendid. The mixed choir alert, on pitch, sing this tricky English very well. The supernumeraries look terrific in Jacob Climer’s costumes: grey suits that fit, witty sock caps. The Senators wear silver ear laurels.

Samuel Barber was hard on himself. After the world premiere when Franco Zeferelli’s design pretty much toppled the thing he cut and fret. Curtis puts the shorter, 1974 version at the Perelman. Some of us still crave the edginess, the longer version with the time to delve the back story. These days, who knows their Rome and Egypt? New York maestro George Manahan also likes the long version restored. The New York City Opera music director was brilliant leading the Curtis singers and band, coaxing a subtle flute or cello, focusing the intensity. The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage paid for Antony & Cleopatra.

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Written by Lesley Valdes

March 22, 2010 at 12:10 am

Posted in 1, Drama, Music, Opera

Tagged with ,

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