Monday, January 23, 2012

Philip Glass Fusion Work "Les Enfants Terrible" Hits Raleigh

A scene from Les Enfants Terrible (Photo: Elisabeth Carecchio)
"Les Enfants Terribles is a fusion of opera and ballet by Philip Glass; the last in a trilogy of such hybrids based on the works of Jean Cocteau. Premiered in 1996, it was staged at Raleigh's Fletcher Opera Theater last week in honor of the composer's 75th birthday, with a French libretto and English narration and supertitles. Drawing talent from the NC Opera and Carolina Ballet, with new choreography and direction by Robert Weiss, the sold-out Sunday matinee was a crowd-pleasing, if muddled, enchantment. The music was a constant highlight. For 'hypnotically snowy,' you'd have to call John Luther Adams to top Philip Glass, who could turn a phone-book recitation into a magical dream-world. Three pianists—one of whom, Wilson Southerland, was also the conductor—provided grinding ostinati and twinkling arpeggios pocked with ominously thundering chords, and I admired the players for finding their entry cues in the lean, repetitive music. The voices occasionally struggled to project over the pianos, but all the principals gave strong performances: baritone Timothy McDevitt, as a vulnerable yet blustery Paul, especially gave me chills at the moments of greatest rapture, though the singer/dancer pair that played Lise (soprano Jessica Cates and Lara O'Brien, respectively) earned the heartiest ovation. The spiraling climax left me breathless, at least, repaying the rough or confusing passages along the way." [Source]

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