Stage Director

The Trilogy – Juilliard Opera Center (2008) – Opera News

The Juilliard Opera Center frequently proves a scintillating place to hear opera. The School’s vocal talent, unparalleled access to actors, dancers and other theater artists to participate in productions and its surfeit of wonderful orchestral musicians are all showcased in one of Lincoln Center’s most rewarding and successful auditoriums. In Trilogy: Three One-Act Portraits of Marriage (November 12), an appreciative house witnessed a project spearheaded by one of Juilliard’s distinguished alumni, James Conlon.

Conlon’s concept was “realized” by Darko Tresnjak and James Marvel, the actual staging directed by Marvel. The collaboration — which also brought together admirably interpenetrative visual elements succeeded very well, especially in the second and third works.

Common as video has become in opera production, it’s certainly rare to encounter it so well integrated with the concrete set elements. The show really took off with the jazzy introduction to Schwergewicht, Slapstick yields to the lightness and exhilaration of real comedy; Excellent blocking and design worked ideally for a game cast.

Marvel, Conlon and their forces then segued into Skripka Rotshilda, which emerged far more moving and compelling than I expected from familiarity with CDs (and the source). The whole achieves considerable poignancy, and Shostakovich’s orchestration is brilliant. Projected images and danced rituals combined into a coherent portrait of a bygone life — not only Bronza’s, but that of the shtetl, which perished along with Fleischmann in the horrific wake of Operation Barbarossa.

David Shengold, Opera News

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