Saturday, February 23, 2008

February 23 - Best of All Possible Universes

Morning, afternoon, and evening divertissements, including Voltaire's Candide,

that is, the Leonard Bernstein version (or one of many of his versions),

as given by Virago Theatre in Alameda

There's Dale Murphy (an intriguing and sweet-voiced Voltaire / Pangloss) and Kristen Jones (shining understudy for all the female leads) at left (who respectively played their hearts out as Don Quixote / Survivor / Baron de Charlus / Lord Byron in Camino Real [after Tennessee Williams] and Jimmy Farrell in The Playboy of the Western World [after John Millington Synge]; and the talented young lady at right who played a stunning Paquette here and a very impressive Jenny Diver in Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera a while past at Virago.

And there are Dale and Kristen again, joined by the animated Elizabeth Finkler on left, who played a dynamic Mrs. Martin in The Bald Soprano (after Eugene Ionesco -- info on all three operas at Others in the Virago cast included

Abraham, in a variety of solid supporting roles; Lisa, who brought comic and tragic elements to her first-rate interpretation of the Old Lady; and

and Eileen, who, with her accustomed vocal prowess, truly glittered and was gay (in the old sense, not that there's anything wrong with the new....), as she also did as Margueritte in Camino.

Many nice touches from the Director, at right, with Harriet -- and look!, they're color co-ordinated, even with the table cloth and the wall decorations (while H is coming off as her usual attractive self, sorry I caught D on the unflattering fly -- she's really a cutie, too).

Indeed all of the leads (including Candide and Maximillian) and most of the minor roles (likewise Martin, Cacambo) sounded quite fine, and the choral sections were impressive when all the singers were brought to the fore. The chamber ensemble was spirited, and inspiring in its potential as a sextet of flute, trombone, piano, percussion, violin, and bass -- some sort of altered/expanded/reduced "Pierrot L'Histoire" -- any takers, orchestrationally? Perhaps moi.

And yes, I was there, too. Enjoyed the show, obviously, despite not looking too much like a happy cutie here. Was it the Barcarole staged late and on dry land? Or the tree trunks? Like David Harris says in Philip Glass's The Thin Blue Line, "Any number of things; depends on how you look at it."

And what about that Voltaire, vis-a-vis this brutal parody of optimism that is Candide? Well, judging from his death mask, it looks like he died happy. And speaking of that, here are a couple of San Rafael News deathsongs in instrumental versions, which we'll begin rehearsing with live vocals tomorrow at Chamber Music Arts for an upcoming Horsewomen of the Apocalypse show (


I. AIDSong

IX. The Reproductive Organs