Join award-winning food journalist Patrick Evans-Hylton as he shows us how to have "a real nice Clambake" inspired by Carousel!
Saturday evening, the Virginia Opera brought back to the Harrison Opera House one of the most popular operettas, "Die Fledermaus" by Johann Strauss II. With all singing and dialogue in English, the large audience could follow every detail of the comical text.
Stage director Dorothy Danner filled the stage with an equal measure of detail, creating what is her signature - a sublime blend of sound and sight.
Conductor Gary Thor Wedow matched the visual presentation by getting a tight performance from the Virginia Symphony Orchestra players. He balanced their sound and drew out many nuances. He even made the overture - which is perhaps heard too often live and on recordings - seem like a fresh inspiration.
The only fault one might find with Danner's work was the too-frequent use of the central staircase, located rather far upstage. It was not an advantageous point from which to project vocals, and the effect of several important moments was diminished.
The large cast was impressive. As Dr. Falke, who maneuvers the plot as he manipulates its players, baritone Christopher Burchett sang with a pleasing and powerful sound. Baritone Philip Cutlip, singing Eisenstein, the wandering husband, had a suitably smoother tone.
Ryan MacPherson played the slightly annoying Alfred, the opera tenor who is infatuated with Eisenstein's wife, using comic stereotypes with an impressive voice. As Frank, the prison warden, veteran bass-baritone Jake Gardner was a pleasure to see again, his vocal and acting skills as effective as ever.
Leading the women, and the center of the gentlemen's attention, was soprano Emily Pulley as Rosalinde. Quite believable in her role, she took some time to warm up her voice. Her middle range was full and rich, and though her high notes had power, they were somewhat forced.
Soprano Sarah Jane McMahon's Adele had a bright personality with a voice to match. If she was the production's sparkling champagne, mezzo-soprano Abigail Nims was its vodka. Playing Orlovsky, the bored Russian prince, she acted with nobility and sang with a power often missing in this character.
The only new character in the last act, on whom much depends, is Frosch, the drunken jailor. Actor Grant Neale, the main reason for this act's success, got around every possible spot on the set, moved through a partly improvised ramble, and made things delightfully unpredictable.