Monday, August 20, 2012

The Critics on UAO's "Das Rheingold"

Union Avenue Opera's production of Wagner's Das Rheingold continues its run this weekend. Here's a sample of what Mark Bretz of Ladue News, Gerry Kowarsky of Two on the Aisle, Chuck Lavazzi of KDHX, Chris Gibson of BroadwayWorld.com and Sarah Bryan Miller of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have to say about the production:

Mark Bretz:
"Director Karen Coe Miller’s spirited telling of Das Rheingold, along with the noble contributions of artistic director and conductor Scott Schoonover and a reduced orchestra, make for an auspicious beginning on UAO’s ambitious four-year quest...Projection designer Michael Perkins, with the aid of projection consultant Mark Wilson, fills the screen with lavish landscapes as well as a surreal appearance for the castle that reaches into the sky...[Jordan] Shanahan's anguish as the continually frustrated dwarf is palpable in his portrayal, while [Elise] Quagliata puts considerable depth into her depiction of the queen angered by Wotan's poor decisions...Marc Schapman's Loge is suitably deceptive and cunning, and Joy Boland is fine in the minor role of the hapless Freia...Cecelia Stearman is striking in her brief scene as Earth goddess Erda." 
"Union Avenue Opera's engaging Das Rheingold offers a tantalizing hint as to what UAO's four-part presentation can achieve."
Gerry Kowarsky:
"The most impressive aspect of the production is the combination of Patrick Huber's set design and Michael Perkins' video design...I liked the way the costumes distinguished between the three races in the opera: gods, giants and dwarves...The production is well cast...Jordan Shanahan's Alberich is outstanding...Karen Coe Miller's direction for the most part tells the story effectively...I can hardly wait for next year's Die Walküre." 
Chuck Lavazzi:
"[Jordan] Shanahan's Alberich is powerfully sung and dramatically convincing...Tenor Marc Schapman radiates detached amusement as the wily fire god Loge...Elise Quagliata turns in another fine performance as Fricka. Both she and Cecelia Stearman, in the cameo role of Erda, the Earth Goddess, are commanding figures that demand and get attention with their vocal power and concentration...Elizabeth Beers Kataria, Megan Hart, and Katja Heuzeroth harmonize beautifully as the Rheinmaidens...Scott Schoonover does well by the score and the sound overall is as beefy as you can probably get in that small pit...Teresa Doggett’s costumes mostly work very well...Stage director Karen Coe Miller does a heroic job of pulling everything together and making it all work as theatre despite the overall difficulty of the project." 
"If you have never seen any of the “Ring” operas, this would be a great opportunity to start making their acquaintance."
Chris Gibson:
[A]ny Wagner has the ability to be stirring and surprisingly cinematic in execution, and this presentation is no exception...[Tenor Marc Schapman] brings a playful presence to the proceedings...Cecelia Stearman makes a bright appearance as Erda, an Earth Goddess, who talks some sense into Wotan once he's received the ring, but finds its power invigorating...Scott Schoonover conducts this piece with considerable aplomb, capturing the bombast inherent in Wagner, but also the delicacy as well..." 
"If you've never seen Wagner, then by all means, you must take in a performance of the Union Avenue Opera's Das Rheingold."
Sarah Bryan Miller:
"The pared-down version of “Das Rheingold” at Union Avenue Opera is definitely Wagner Lite. For some people, it might just be Wagner Without Fear."
"[D]irector Karen Coe Miller and her production team of scenic designer Patrick Huber and video designer Michael B. Perkins came up with the best possible solution for the sets...That enabled them to put on an impressive introductory show...Teresa Doggett’s costumes suited the production; those for the giants were a lot of fun...Clark Sturdevant’s sweet-voiced Froh and John Maynard’s sturdy Donner were standouts...Marc Schapman’s Loge, the capricious demigod of fire, had the right degree of snark...Baritone Jordan Shanahan, uglified, was terrific as Alberich, the dwarf who renounces love, steals the Rheingold and sets the whole cycle in motion...Todd von Felker and Nikolas Wenzel, as the shambling giants Fasolt and Fafner, sang richly and were nicely differentiated...Schoonover had the flow of the score in hand." 
"You can never have too much Wagner. On to “Die Walküre”!"
Be sure to revisit this post for a review from Gerry Kowarsky and Bob Wilcox of HEC-TV's Two on the Aisle.

Das Rheingold continues its run this weekend: August 24 & 25 at Union Avenue Opera, 733 N. Union Blvd. All performances begin at 8:00pm. Production sung in German with projected English supertitles. Tickets may be purchased online at www.unionavenueopera.org or by calling 314-361-2881.

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