Saturday, August 04, 2012

City of Sin, West Edge Opera

West Edge Opera's City of Sin double bill has one more performance, tomorrow (Sunday, August 5) at 3 p.m. A few comments on last night's performance, with the aim of persuading you to buy a ticket.

The double bill consists of Weill & Brecht's Mahagonny Songspiel, the half-hour seed of the full-length opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. WEO has given it a splendid staging, with the pit band on stage, projections in the background, and imaginative sets and direction. The six-member cast really dug in, too, with committed singing and acting: Aimee Puentes, Laura Bohn, Thomas Glenn, Michael Desnoyers, Daniel Cilli, and Paul Murray. The band was also terrific, entirely comfortable with the mixed classical/cabaret idiom.

Vera of Las Vegas must be one of the weirder operas I've seen, with a plot that involves a couple of IRA guys on the run (I think), an airline stewardess, and a drag queen. The music went exceptionally well with that of the Mahagonny Songspiel, and composer Daron Hagen arranged it to match the band for the Weill. Again, great direction, acting, and singing from Brian Asawa in the title role (he moves very well in a dress and heels, better than I would, in fact), Heidi Moss as his co-conspirator, and Paul Murray and Thomas Glenn as the Irish guys.

Jonathan Khuner conducts, as usual, and plays piano in the band. He has quite a connection with Mahagonny Songspiel, too, through his late father Felix, who was (among other things), the second violinist of the famed Kolisch Quartet. The older Mr. Khuner very likely played violin in the Baden-Baden premier of the Weill, if I'm reading the program notes correctly. But you should go, and read the programs notes for yourself.

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