The tail end of my week has featured night after night of wonderful free entertainment. Since it’s nearing midnight and I still have a paper to proofread, I’ll make this short and sweet.
Night One: Wednesday
Well, of course I had to see the opening night of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s Coriolanus. Every year on Boston common, CSC presents a different Shakespeare. This is the first year I’ve made it out.
Since the moment I heard that CSC had picked Coriolanus, I was intrigued to see the production. It’s not a show performed very frequently, and there’s a reason for that. It’s extremely difficult to execute in a way which keeps its audience, it’s a Roman show and thereby has confusing and alien politics, and it demands a great deal of dexterity from its almost-completely male cast.
There’s a great deal of violence in the show (it is, after all, about war), which also makes it difficult to execute for small companies lacking in funds to hire a fight director. I am sorry to say that the first thing I noticed about this production was its violence (and not in a good way). The fights looked under-rehearsed and sloppy, though this is a problem which may solve itself over the course of the run. Stage fights require a great deal of precision in order to communicate their stories to an audience, otherwise you just wind up with awkward hugging and two guys waving “deadly” weapons at each other. Unfortunately, in
the heat of (especially a first) performance, a great deal of the work which goes into attaining this precision can be lost in a wash of adrenaline. I truly hope that these bits get tightened up during the run, because they would greatly improve the quality of the piece.
Karen MacDonald absolutely took the stage as Volumnia (and by that I mean the entire production was hers and hers alone… perhaps giving some concession to Jacqui Parker’s Sicinius Velutus). My goodness, that woman had us in the palm of her hand. Powerful, overbearing, creepy, and utterly in control. Brava, Ms. MacDonald. Brava.
On the whole, the experience is definitely one worth having. Especially on a lovely summer night. Especially with good friends. Especially with a giant spread of yummy food on your picnic blanket. Most especially because it’s not very frequently that you see this show performed; go add it to your Shakespeare checklist while you can.
Night Two: Thursday
So here’s a question for you: have you ever been to the Opera?
Before this year, I would have been among the masses who answered “no”.
Here’s a fun facts about Opera: Opera is the only performing art with an audience whose average age in actually dropped (Opera is hip!).
Opera also ain’t what you think it is. Oh, sure, there are the nine-hour-singing-in-German snoozers (…uh… works of artistic genius?), but really who wants to perform them much less go to see them? The vast majority of the Opera that I’ve seen (not that I’m a connoisseur yet… still building my Opera street cred) has been hip, upbeat, and fun.
Comic Operas are some of the most fun you can have during a night in the theatre.
Tonight, I attended a performance of Orpheus in the Underworld by the Boston Opera Collaborative. A comic Opera by Offenbach, Orpheus tells the classic Greek story we all know and love… but with a twist. It’s a comedic farce of the story complete with satyrs, sex, and rock ‘n roll (…well… at least a violin solo).
Here’s a great thing about Orpheus: you already know some of the music. “The Infernal Galop” (II.2) is a tune familiar to any and all who have ever engaged with an iota of pop culture (hint: you probably know it as “the Can-Can”).
Here’s the great thing about the Boston Opera Collaborative: their shows are free. BOC was founded in 2005 in an effort to create a post-graduate outlet for students of operatic arts. As a result, the shows you will see there won’t be the meticulously polished performances you get at the Met, but they will be lively, entertaining, and completely gratis.
I can’t be more pleased with this initiative. What a great way to introduce audiences to an art form, and simultaneously build resumes for intermediate performers. Orpheus performs this weekend at the Strand theatre. It’s free. You have no excuse not to go. Especially if you’ve never been to the Opera before. Ticket info can be found here.