Saturday, August 13, 2011

Up-coming: Four Saints in Three Acts

Friday afternoon I was allowed into a working rehearsal of Ensemble Parallèle's up-coming production of Four Saints in Three Acts. As conductor Nicole Paiement explained it, the staging is a pantomime showing St. Ignatius as a doctor. He assists in a suicide, resurrects an operating room patient, gets arrested & is finally executed, joining the other saints in heaven. The cheeky staging matches the absurd tone of the libretto.

The young, hard-working cast are all strong singers & actors. I was impressed that they could take musical notes from Maestro Paiement simultaneously with stage directions from director Brian Staufenbiel, who never seems short of ideas. I already like the beautiful, dusky & expressive singing of mezzo Kristen Choi as one of the St. Teresas. Baritone Eugene Brancoveanu was recovering from an illness & sang the part of St. Ignatius from a seat in the auditorium so he would not get the rest of the cast sick. SFMike was on stage as a super, moving props around & clearly enjoying the opera. He has enthusiastically talked up the show for weeks.

§ Four Saints in Three Acts: An Opera Installation

An Ensemble Parallèle production
Nicole Paiement, conductor/artistic director
Brian Staufenbiel, director

Music by Virgil Thomson and Luciano Chessa
Libretto by Gertrude Stein

Featuring Kalup Linzy

Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
700 Howard St., San Francisco

Thursday, August 18, 2011, 8:00 p.m. (preview)
Friday – Saturday, August 19 – 20, 2011, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 21, 2011, 2:00 p.m.

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