|Soprano Hanna Rosenbaum|
There is a lot to like in this opera. Of course, the music of Mr. Vaughan Williams is beautiful. It will appeal to those who are only familiar with his "Fantasia on Greensleeves" or "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis", but also to those like me, who are
Bass-baritone Richard Bozic sang with beauty of tone and august authority as Dipsacus. His three henchmen, sort of a magical Larry, Moe, and Curly (actually Hob, Gob, and Lob), were played with enthusiasm by tenor Gilad Paz, baritone Nicholas Provenzale and bass Robert C. Joubert (two more for Barihunks to watch for). I would not have been surprised if the trio had suddenly broken into "Brush Up Your Shakespeare". In true 1930s British movie musical form, Empress Persicaria was played quite imperiously by Leslie Swanson. One could almost imagine the role having been written for Dame Clara Butt or Margaret Dumont.
The orchestra, led by Mr. Spierman the elder, played inoffensively, and the chorus, well prepared by Michael Haigler, sang its thankless music while enduring a lot of stage business I might not have included. The sets by Meganne George, the lighting by Jim Elliott, and the projections by Eamonn Farrell were quite lovely, as were the costumes by Meg Zeder. (One wonders, however, why a great amount of money was spent on sets and costumes, and yet the female lead appears to have been wearing the same dress for days on end.)
I'm actually quite glad I saw this production. I'm happy to have heard the beautiful singing. The opera itself? Let's let it rest on the shelf for another 50 years or so.