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"Monodramas": "La Machine de l通tre", "Erwartung", "Neither" at New York City Opera
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"Monodramas": "La Machine de l通tre", "Erwartung", "Neither" at New York City Opera

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Monodramas
By
John Zorn, Arnold Schoenberg, Morton Feldman
La Machine de l通tre
Erwartung
Neither


At
New York City Opera
www.nycopera.com
David H. Koch Theater
www.lincolncenter.org

La Machine de l通tre
Music by John Zorn
Performed by Any Komsi

Erwartung
Music by Arnold Schoenberg
Libretto by Marie Pappenheim
Performed by Kara Shay Thomson

Neither
Music by Morton Feldman
Text by Samuel Beckett
Performed by Cyndia Sieden

Conductor, George Manahan
Production Director & Set Designer, Michael Counts
Choreographer, Ken Roht
Costume Designer, Jessica Jahn
Lighting Designer, Robert Wierzel
Animation Designers, Beehive, Ada Whitney,
Marcelo Cardozo, James Bartley, Luke Lamborn, Tommy Shull
Video Artist, Jennifer Steinkamp
Publicity Coordinator: Shara Seigel

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 2, 2011


On a visual level, Monodramas works completely. It痴 a media event, with exceptional sets, costumes, animations, videos, and extraordinary vocal talent. As a staged Lincoln Center opera, I was severely disappointed. La Machine de l通tre, with music by John Zorn, performed by Any Komsi, as in all three pieces, features the solo soprano, with the entire company as walking or still mannequins. With all that exquisite talent onstage, it was astonishing that they should have fallen silent for this entire production. However, as a museum gallery piece or downtown stage piece, it would have been perfect. The silent 田horus need not be opera singers, but could have been actors, as each piece was supremely theatrical. Back to Ms. Komsi, she is an accomplished performer from Finland, who sings one vowel over and over in many atonal forms. Zorn痴 score is based on 殿 drawing by Antonin Artaud created during his last days in an asylum.

The ensemble wanders about in Islamic burqas, with a few being disrobed to show silken slips and gowns, and men shown in a red suit or such. Enormous cartoonish word thoughts appear in animation, and the red-suited character flies overhead. Again, on a visual level, with the ambient vocal vowels, I could have watched this forever in a MOMA gallery. But in this expansive theater it was misconceived. The other two pieces, as well, were strident, confusing, and unsettling, in this staging format.

Erwartung, with music by Arnold Schoenberg, libretto by Marie Pappenheim, and performed by Kara Shay Thomson, consists of a gorgeous nature video in one of the animated 鍍hought cartoons, followed by orange autumn leaves, in video, then actuality, as they flutter down from the rafters. I was entranced and loved this visual experience, until it was interrupted with the second dizzying scenario. At one point, a home is seen with a tiny interior light on the horizon. Ms. Thomson wanders about, searching for a lost lover. The silent chorus of women wander about, as well, and one man lies on the stage with a knife in his heart. The cast circles the corpse, before he stands in breathing life and approaches her. Schoenberg痴 score was fascinating, but here, again, would have been better served had this been media art, rather than full staged solo opera.

Neither, with music by Morton Feldman, text by Samuel Beckett, and performed by Cyndia Sieden, was unintelligible in aria form, but visually astounding. Over 50 mirrored cubes, hanging from the rafters, rise and fall, as does one of the frozen men. Colors shift quickly, so the mirrored stage turns red, blue, white, green. Ms. Sieden at one point examines one cube, as if it were an alien landing, while she repeats in many ways unfathomable lyrics. For the record, lyrics include 砥nheard footfalls only sound and 砥nspeakable home. At this point I was really looking forward to The Elixir of Love on the next day痴 matinee, with the entire Company in song.



Anu Komsi in John Zorn's
"La Machine de l通tre"
in City Opera's "Monodramas"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg


Anu Komsi in John Zorn's
"La Machine de l'ハtre"
in City Opera's "Monodramas"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg


Kara Shay Thomson in Schoenberg's
"Erwartung"
in City Opera's "Monodramas"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg


Kara Shay Thomson in Schoenberg's
"Erwartung"
in City Opera's "Monodramas"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg


Cyndia Sieden in Feldman's
"Neither"
in City Opera's "Monodramas"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg


Cyndia Sieden in Feldman's
"Neither"
in City Opera's "Monodramas"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net