Besamé Opera

Last night Opera Five staged a double bill of two one act Spanish operas from the first quarter of the twentieth century.  The first was de Falla’s El retablo de maese Pedro.  This was written as a puppet opera blending a chivalric tale about the days of Charlemagne with an intervention by an increasingly angry Don Quixote.  Structurally it’s an interesting piece with the story being told to a quite simple vocal line by the soprano (Rachel Krehm) playing the puppet master’s boy with interruptions by her boss (Conrad Siebert) and, increasingly, by the one man audience, Don Quixote (Giovanni Spanu).  In between the action is acted out by shadow puppets accompanied by a a rather lush “soundtrack”.  Finally Don Quixote loses patience with the whole thing and tears down the set before going on a rant about the virtues of knights errant and himself in particular.  Staged as a sort of children;s game by director Aria Umezawa, it played very well to this company’s strengths.  It was well sung, clever, funny, irreverent and enormously enjoyable.  Music director Maika’i Nash once again did that thing I find incredible,m impersonating a whole orchestra on piano, this time with some help from Conrad Siebert on various percussion instruments.

Bésame Ópera-Retablo-puppet show

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