What do we mean by “forgiveness” or “redemption”? Prodigal, written and directed by Paolo Santalucia currently being presented by the Howland Company at Crow’s Theatre asks us to consider just that. It’s a curiously structured play. On one level it’s a black comedy about a seriously dysfunctional elite family but there’s an intro to each act in which a preacher exegises on the Parable of the Prodigal Son and the Parable of the Lost Sheep. We are invited to compare the characters we are about to see with the dramatic personae of Christ’s teaching. But are they really comparable?”
The 21C Afterhours concert in Temerty Theatre last night featured a candle lit performance by a varied ensemble of conservatory students conducted by Brian Current. Brian did a great job of introducing the music; contextualizing it and suggesting what the audience might listen for. That could maybe be done more often with complex contemporary music.
The first piece was Bekah Simms’ Foreverdark. It’s a ten minute concertino for amplified cello, ensemble and electronics playing homage to heavy metal. It’s scored for a quite a large group including strings, brass, woodwinds and lots of percussion including a drum kit. It starts out very abrasively then becomes somewhat more lyrical and the then the texture lightens up but it’s still pretty complex. David Liam Roberts was the soloist and did an excellent job.
This year’s fall opera production from the Glenn Gould School is John Blow’s 1683(?) masque Venus and Adonis. For those not familiar with the genre the masque was a court entertainment combining music, dance, poetry and drama. Here the framing story is the brief love affair between Venus and handsome young Adonis who is unfortunately gored to death by a boar. The main sub plot concerns Venus giving sage advice to Cupid and his band of little cupids. In between there are hunting choruses, dance and extracts from Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
One of the interesting things about Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann is that there is no definitive edition so creative teams have a lot of flexibility in how they cut and combine material. Director Tobias Kratzer and conductor Carlo Rizzi created a really interesting take for their production at Dutch National Opera in 2018. It’s a very modern, very dark interpretation that while it keeps Offenbach’s music (though not interpolations like Scintille diamante) and the words are all from (some version of) the libretto the storyline varies a lot from what we are used to while keeping intact the central psychological fact that Hoffmann is incapable of relating to real women.