Tag Archives: Florida Grand Opera
Even more unflinchingly romantic than those starving Bohemians in the garret or those Egyptians being buried alive, the unalloyed passion coursing through Daniel Catan’s Florencia en el Amazonas in its first production at Florida Grand Opera is a pungent pleasure.
The sound coming from the Arsht Center stage is almost unearthly and totally unexpected unless you’ve seen the opera Orfeo ed Euridice or heard the unique sound of a counter-tenor before. The voice that ascends to the heavens emanates from a slight of stature man, but if you close your eyes, his high liquid tremelo could just as easily be coming from a female mezzo-soprano.
If it’s February, then theater companies are taking advantage of the visiting snowbirds presence to announce what they hope will be an enticing slate of titles for the 2018-19 season.
Someone asked opening night whether Florida Grand Opera’s Salome was anything like early productions when its psycho-sexuality caused it to be banned in a few countries. Well, it’s doubtful those productions mirrored FGO’s in which Salome thrusts the bleeding decapitated face of John the Baptist into her crotch and King Herod seems to sexually stimulate himself lying prone on the floor at the sight of Salome.
Florida Grand Opera promised a season of Divas to Die For, and it couldn’t have been more on point in that respect with its 77th season opener, Lucia di Lammermoor. Gaetano Donizetti’s bel canto masterpiece may not be as familiar to operagoers as some of the classics, but it’s a crowd pleaser with its 15-minute tour de force which plunges Lucia into hysteria, drama around every corner, and a Romantic score of beautiful melodies.
Opera is all about technique, spotlighting it, honoring it, celebrating it. So when Florida Grand Opera took on one of the most demanding works in the entire canon, Verdi’s A Masked Ball, it wisely hired accomplished singers whose polished skills are as dazzling by themselves as watching Olympic figure skaters.
The true-life narrative in Before Night Falls is profoundly powerful and undeniably affecting: Reinaldo Areneas, the gay Cuban poet, inspired by the beauty of the island but brutally oppressed by the government, escapes to America only to find that the loss of his homeland is as crippling as the loss of freedom had been.
This may be heresy, but maybe grand opera shouldn’t always be so grand. Florida Grand Opera’s current production of Tchaikovsky’s romantic tragedy Eugene Onegin reportedly has a more intimate feel than many predecessors. But that only points the way to an idea that might make this classic even more affecting.
Critics and award judges have been talking about it for weeks: The sheer amount of high quality work has made evaluating the last 12 months unusually challenging, but also an opportunity to remember one of the most rewarding calendar years in recent memory. So here’s a supremely subjective stab by all three critics here at Florida Theater On Stage at recognizing the shows and performances that stood out from a pack of productions.
Oddly, for all the technical artistry that the assembled talents are displaying in Florida Grand Opera’s thoroughly satisfying 10th run at Georges Bizet’s deathlessly popular masterwork, it is the imaginative touches of director Bernard Uzan and his insistence that they singers act that makes this edition memorable.