FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Living Opera of Dallas:
Report on the Inaugural Performance
Mozart's Don Giovanni
at the Eisemann Center - June 19, 2005
Opening Night Performance Exceeds Expectations
I attended the opening night performance of a new opera
company in the Dallas area: The Living opera of Dallas. It is an ambitious
project to start a new opera company. Founder and director Michael
Chadwick, as they say, had his work cut out for him.
Mozart's Don Giovanni was the opening night opera, and I was
see how well it would turn out. I would say that, on all counts, it exceeded my
expectations. I was pleasantly surprised that it did. And glad.
I liked the guy that sang Giovanni, Kirk Eichelberger. He
has a strong voice, acts well, and is very cute. He has apparently been
singing around, including this part.
The best of the women was Tawny Steward, who sang Zerlina.
She and Stephen Hartley, as Masetto, made a good team.
My least favorite singer was Marianne Cope as Donna Anna.
She had a strange bleat in her voice that I found rather unpleasant,
especially in the balcony. She looked good, though, and acted well.
The rest of the cast was average and serviceable, acting
well and singing well, but not exceptionally so. Nathan Furman was amusing
as Leporello, but could have
had a bit more "oomph" in his voice, and Stephen Hall, otherwise
satisfying as Don Ottavio, sort
of blew his big aria, Il Mio Tesoro, which, if well done, can be a show stopper.
was not the best choice as a venue.
It is a lovely, modern theater, but the acoustics are not that good for classical music
and opera. Plus, at 1550 seats, it was way too big for the number of
people that showed up. The theatre was only half full, and so it looked
poorly attended, when in fact, in a smaller house, it would have looked
full. I sat in the balcony for the first half, and the sound was clear,
but with no bass. I moved downstairs for Act II, and the sound was dull,
but more evenly mixed, sort of like a recording with the noise filter
Given a choice, I would pick a seat downstairs, which favors the singers.
The orchestra was OK. It was ragged at first, but came
together as the show progressed. I am sure everything sounded better on
The costumes were rented, and very nice. The sets less so.
The stage was poorly decorated and the sets simply looked cheap. That is
not a problem necessarily, if the stage is well lit, but it wasn't. As I
told my friend Joan Merriman, "Simple is fine if it is done with style."
We both laughed. There were projections for the backgrounds, and while
that is a nice idea, they were too dim, and especially did not look good
from the balcony.
There is an semi-professional group in Houston called
Opera in the
Heights, which apparently does similar productions in an old church
sanctuary with about 550 seats. This show would have been great in that
It sounds like I am being overly critical, but in fact I
enjoyed it. It was a very honorable first effort done on a shoestring, and,
if properly nurtured, and perhaps moved to a more intimate performance
space, could be a great asset to the Dallas arts scene. However, I give it
little hope, as these things do not usually get the support they deserve.
After all, opera is an entertainment, not a duty, and most audiences have
their expectations set too high.
The critics, of course, hated it, but what do they know!
They invariably judge such things according to the wrong criteria. The
Living Opera is no Dallas Opera, but that is not the point. I think it was
wonderful to hear young singers doing a good job, and feel that such
things are valuable, both to audiences and singers. There is a long
standing and honorable community theater effort. Why not the same for
One other thing. The Living Opera is planning to do
Marriage of Figaro and Rakes Progress next year. That is the kind of
programming they should be doing. There are lots of American Operas that
deserve to be heard, and which can be done effectively by young singers,
rather than by the main stream opera companies. For example, in recent
years I saw Street Scene by Kurt Weill and Britten's Albert Herring at SMU,
and The Crucible at NTSU. All were fine performances that did not depend
on virtuoso performances by famous singers to succeed. I think The Living
Opera has a good idea, doing one favorite opera and one American work each
The Living Opera of Dallas will be performing Donizetti's
popular comic opera, L'Elisir d'Amore, on July 29-30, 2005. Tickets
are available through The Living Opera of Dallas, 972-744-4650, and on
www.TheLivingOpera.org. I am looking
forward to seeing how well they do.
Ed Flaspoehler - Wagner Society of Dallas