Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First Reviews of AMELIA

We have lift-off!

Saturday night's opening of Amelia was a night to remember: the expectant tingle in the air when the curtain first went up, the gorgeous voices of the singers and marvelous playing from the orchestra, the audience's rapt stillness at the end of Act One (could have heard a pin drop), the noisy ovation that greeted composer and librettist, Daron Hagen and Gardner McFall, when they stepped onstage for their curtain call, and all the enthusiasm at the post-show discussion.

The first print reviews have been very positive. Those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest may have seen the great picture of Amelia on the front page of yesterday's Seattle Times, and read Marc Ramirez's interesting article about the use of Vietnamese in the opera. In today's Seattle Times review, Bernard Jacobson called Amelia "an achievement at once profound and hugely enjoyable" and praised Wadsworth's "flawless" production, Schwarz's assured leadership, the "stunningly good" Kate Lindsey, Nathan Gunn, and William Burden. In the New York Times, Anthony Tommasini called Amelia a "a serious, heartfelt and unusual work," wrote that Hagen's music is "harmonically lush and singable," and said that "there was not one weak link in the large cast."

Online at Musical America, George Loomis wrote that "Hagen responds to the growing demands of the drama by...broadening the expressive range of his music to accommodate the cascade of divergent emotions as the opera presses on to its conclusion—-turbulent dissonance one moment, compelling lyricism the next. The opera culminates in an ethereal life-affirming unaccompanied ensemble for the nine principal singers." In The Gathering Note, R. M. Campbell found "much to be admired in Hagen’s score. It is tonal, occasionally percussive, mildly dissonant, just enough to put him in the world of modern music. It deserves repeated attention...some of his best writing comes in the interludes that introduce both acts and separate the six scenes. This is potent music. Perhaps he should consider making a suite of them for the concert stage." For The SunBreak, Roger van Oosten praised "the magnificent performances of Nathan Gunn as Paul and Kate Lindsey as Amelia. Gunn makes you feel the pain of a man whose marriage is nearly doomed by forces beyond his control and beyond time itself...David Won, Karen Vuong, and Museop Kim are wonderful in their scenes in Vietnam: deeply felt, honest and humble...Jordan Bisch is wonderful as a large lumbering dad who is devastated by the loss of a son. And, finally, powerhouse soprano Jane Eaglen." And the Opera Tattler found that "The text did not display the awkwardness that marks many contemporary operas. The words fit the music, and the deft overlapping of narratives condensed the plot without being confusing or tedious. Layering of the Icarus myth and the life of Amelia Earhart with the main story line worked surprisingly well."

Keep your eyes on this blog in the days to come, for more reviews, audience response, and spotlights on more members of the cast.

Above, tenor Nicholas Coppolo as Icarus; Photo by Rozarii Lynch


  1. Hallo, SEA-OP Bloggers!
    The uniformly excellent reviews make me sorry I'm still in Germany and missing the superb "Amelia"
    production. Hopefully the reviews will convince opera companies in the USA (and Germany!!) to also do this work. If the music is "tonal" as described, it will also be a most-welcome relief for us in the audiences, who are tired of having our ears shattered by harsh dissonances coming out of the "pits"!!
    Toi, toi, toi!!
    Win H.