Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Praise for Beatrice and Benedict

Seattle Opera presents Beatrice and Benedict. Tuffer photo
"Imaginative ... Fast-paced, action-packed and nobly sung." - The Seattle Times 

" interesting and intruiging adaptation." - British Theatre Guide

"Langs and Morlot did a masterful job of making a full meal out of Berlioz’s tasty hors d’oeuvres, preserving the dash and insouciance of the original; the added pathos and drama enrich it without cluttering it." - Seattle Weekly 

Daniela Mack (Beatrice) and Alek Shrader (Benedict). Tuffer photo
"Constantly on the move, this production has the cast — attired in Deborah Trout’s spectacularly colorful costumes — leaping up and down stairs on Matthew Smucker’s versatile, multilevel set. Cheers to the versatile and active Seattle Opera Chorus (John Keene, chorusmaster) and to choreographer Helen Heaslip." - The Seattle Times 

"This kind of collaboration is just the sort of thing a city-wide festival ought to do—combining the forces of three leading cultural forces to make something new and a good alternative to the original. Purists might object but Seattle Opera's production is faithful to Shakespeare's original vision in a way that enriches both Berlioz and the Seattle Opera's audience." - British Theatre Guide

Brandon O'Neill (Don Juan). Tuffer photo
"On Saturday night, the impetuous and feisty title roles were taken by Daniela Mack and Alek Shrader — both high-energy singers and compelling actors who were completely believable as opponents and as lovers. Sunday’s show had the excellent and well-matched Hanna Hipp and Andrew Owens, respectively."  - The Seattle Times 

"When Seattle Opera decided to take it on in this season of tributes to Shakespeare’s art, it expanded the opera to give it more substance for today’s audiences, an expansion which works. How could it not, with all the words by Shakespeare and all the music by Berlioz, braided into the original score to include the more dramatic aspects of the play?" - The SunBreak 

"Shelly Traverse (Hero) charmed the audience with her voice and stage presence, both lovely and unaffected."  - The Seattle Times 

Daniela Mack (Beatrice), Marvin Grays (Leonato), and Shelly Traverse (Hero). Jacob Lucas photo
"As Somarone, Kevin Burdette demonstrated once again his comic genius, even turning to Morlot at one point and chiding him in French for his sluggish musical direction." - Seattle P.I.

"Craig Verm, as her would-be husband Claudio, sang beautifully and was a compelling actor."  - The Seattle Times 

"A Seattle Chorus member who has sung roles locally, Traverse did extremely well opening night, sounding secure in her part with a clear and pretty voice well balanced with the other voices, and a good actress (as were they all). We heard baritone Craig Verm last month in Seattle Opera’s Così fan tutte. He did equally well here, while bass Daniel Sumegi (remember him in recent Wagner operas here?) sang Don Pedro."  - The SunBreak 

Shelly Traverse (Hero) and Avery Amereau (Ursule). Tuffer photo
"Marvin Grays was an effective Leonato; Daniel Sumegi a powerful Don Pedro; and Brandon O’Neill and Avery Clark were the villains you love to hate. Kevin Burdette’s over-the-top Somarone was consistently hilarious. Christine Marie Brown, Chip Sherman and Avery Amereau all shone in smaller roles."  - The Seattle Times 

"The villain behind this deception, Don Juan, is included too as a non-singing part, and Brandon O’Neill makes him richly hissable." - Seattle Weekly 

Daniel Sumegi (Don Pedro), Andrew Owens (Benedict) and Craig Verm (Claudio). Jacob Lucas photo
"Seattle Symphony music director Morlot, a well-known exponent of Berlioz’s music, stitched up this varied musical fabric into a persuasive whole, giving the singers plenty of expressive opportunities while never allowing the pace to flag. Berlioz described his own opera as 'A caprice written with the point of a needle'; Morlot wielded that precise 'needle' as his baton." - The Seattle Times 

"This is lightened up by the gorgeous set, originally built for a Seattle opera product of I Puritani, and repurposed with great effect into sunny Italy by Matthew Smucker. It comprises a multitude of staircases going every which way, a bit reminiscent of Hogwarts (although they don’t move), and while the principals are singing and arguing in witty repartee in the foreground, dozens of chorus members are going about their daily chores up and down those stairs, providing a kaleidoscope of constantly changing color and movement." - The SunBreak 

Seattle Opera presents Beatrice and Benedict. Jacob Lucas photo
"Shrader is, refreshingly, charming throughout; in the era of #MeToo, it’s a relief to see this production avoid the misogynist trope of making the heroine inexplicably fall for a jerk." - Seattle Weekly 

"Shelly Traverse was a sweet Hero, in voice and manner, and Craig Verm full of naïvely youthful ardor as Claudio, with a resonant baritone that was particularly moving in his aria swearing vengeance on Hero. Traverse and Avery Amereau as Hero’s maid Ursula delivered an enchanting Nocturne. As Somarone the town constable, a role created by Berlioz, Kevin Burdette supplied an over-the-top humor reminiscent of Shakespeare’s fools." - Queen Anne News

Hanna Hipp (Beatrice). Tuffer photo
"But it’s Berlioz’ music which carries it all. Memorable trios and duets as well as choruses and arias give plenty of scope for singers to bring out the emotions inherent in the plot. Morlot paces it perfectly, his Seattle Symphony members in the pit responding to his every nuance. Connie Yun’s lighting and Deborah Trout’s timeless and colorful costumes add considerably to the décor." - The SunBreak 

"Matthew Smucker’s multi-level set, all bridges and spiral staircases, is as light as lacework; Deborah
Trout’s costumes splash color everywhere. Langs has a fantastic eye for simple yet powerful scenic effects; I won’t spoil the surprise of what happens at the thwarted wedding. The best sight gag comes during Hero’s luscious Act 1 aria, interrupted at the end by a regiment of soldiers jogging past, ending in a gallant gesture from Claudio." - Seattle Weekly 

Shelly Traverse (Hero), Craig Verm (Claudio) and Daniela Mack (Beatrice). Jacob Lucas photo

Beatrice and Benedict plays now through March 10, 2018.
Tickets & info: