Glory, Glory Hallelujah
A minor miracle occurred as Des Moines Metro Opera converted a large hall on a Reserve Army Base to a wholly successful theatrical venue, and delivered a stunning rendition of Tom Cipullo’s compelling military-themed one act opera, Glory Denied. Scheduled in the wake of Veteran’s Day celebrations, and performed at Camp Dodge, the work had an especial, gut-wrenching resonance as it tells the true story of an American family torn apart during the unsettling era of the unpopular Vietnam War. Cipullo’s masterfully taut adaption of Tom Philpott’s book of the same name, makes a cogent impression in just seventy-five compact minutes with a score that is by turns chaotic, angular, melodic, harmonious, and even at times, serene… The four actors interact freely and seemingly spontaneously, sometimes in a certain reality of the moment, and on other occasions, time traveling to speak with and about their alternate incarnations. They sometimes briefly enact other characters. This is not a strictly linear narrative but rather an intriguing mosaic of impressions and factual information, stunningly interwoven in a soul stirring evening of profound suffering and eventual forgiveness and redemption. Jim Thompson is truly a heroic subject, worthy of ennoblement by a thrillingly varied score, mesmerizing libretto, and a flawless, kaleidoscopic staging by the abundantly gifted director, Kristine McIntyre. The central playing space has audience members on all four sides and Ms. McIntyre has devised fluid, continuously morphing stage pictures that not only underscore the dramatic truth of the situations, but also keep each segment of the audience fully immersed in the drama by having at least one character playing in their direction. She drew deeply personal portrayals from her superb cast. And she has obviously toiled to great effect as she developed “younger” and “older” versions of Jim and Alyce that share identical personality cores as well as an eerily unified approach to the roles’ physicalization. We really believed that these were two embodiments of the same two souls. I may have said it before, but it bears repeating: Kristine McIntyre is one of the foremost directors working in opera today. If you see her name in the credits, rest assured it is going to a top tier, often revelatory experience. She was ably abetted by a superlative creative team… This wholly successful presentation was complemented by a meaningful talk back after the show that included Vietnam vets and military personnel currently serving Des Moines Metro Opera is a major force in the national opera scene, and if any reinforcement of that was needed, after this remarkably effective mounting of Glory Denied, I can emphatically say: Mission Accomplished.
James Sohre, Opera Today
True Impact: DMMO'S Glory Denied
Des Moines Metro Opera does not pull any punches when it comes to their Second Stages series. The company has consistently chosen operas that are thought provoking and relevant to modern audiences and then set them in unique locations that provide another level of thematic context. Tom Cipullo's Glory Denied is a complex, emotional piece on its own, but its dramatic impact is greatly enhanced when performed on an active military base. This is Des Moines Metro Opera's second opera performed at Camp Dodge, and I hope it will not be the last. Aside from the physical location, the collaboration with the military community produces numerous benefits. The participation of veterans and active duty service members in the post-show panel discussion helped to bridge the gap between theater and reality. Cipullo's music can convey the passion and angst of a soldier's true story, but seeing a Vietnam veteran with tears in his eyes as he talked about the loss of his best friend, a POW who never returned, breaks your heart with visceral power. Putting the faces of real people, fellow Iowans, at the front of the discussion helped to highlight the universal themes of Glory Denied. The scenic design by Adam Crinson was subtle and versatile with a four pronged platform that could serve as the site of Colonel Thompson's captivity and his world back home in the United States simultaneously. A plethora of crude paper stars hung from the ceiling of the theater, a constant reminder of a homemade gift from his daughter and a symbol of what he is fighting to return to. Kathy Maxwell's lighting design showcased the singers as the dramatic focal point, and the use of video projects on upright panels provided historic images and written correspondence without being distracting. The stage was set up in a round which allowed the singers to move through the space organically and sing at different angles… The music became more expansive and melodic as the Older Jim and Alyce dominated the story which made their emotions more compelling for me. I even found myself tearing up a couple of times during their reunion and the final scene of the opera which is a testament to the hard hitting emotional weight of Cipullo's music. Glory Denied is guaranteed to make you feel something whether you have been personally impacted by the military experience or not.
Meghan Klinkenborg, Schmopera.com
Flight Soars High in Des Moines
Jonathan Dove’s innovative opera Flight is being lavished with an absolutely riveting new production at Des Moines Metro Opera’s resoundingly successful 2018 Festival… I am not sure what other opera companies are doing for world class singers at the moment, since they seem to all have been assembled in Indianola, Iowa to people this exquisitely realized performance... Director Kristine McIntyre has inspired this miracle of an ensemble cast to the highest possible level of achievement. The personal journey of each character has its own arc and together the team has not only defined the individual’s quests, but also has woven them together so that in the end, they are all surprised as they embrace their interdependence… And therein lies one beauty of Flight. It allows us to speculate. It gives us vignettes and lets us struggle to resolve them. It challenges us to face dynamics in our lives, relationships, situations, where we ourselves were tempted to flee. It tells us that life is not always linear, but sometimes parenthetical. And it makes us reflect upon how well we treat not only “others,” but the “Other.” And Team Flight accomplished this with humor, tireless physical movement, utter belief in the material, limitless application of talent, and profound compassion for the frailty of their (and our) characters. Back to the unerring staging from Ms. McIntyre, she used every possible inch of the playing space with variety and abandon… Flight was a uniquely satisfying journey with echoes of today’s headlines, musically vibrant and theatrically engaging, passionately presented by a thoroughbred team of interpreters who simply could not have been bettered. Bravi tutti!
James Sohre, Opera Today
Opera of Ideas: Madison Opera’s Bold Choice Delivers
Showing bold enterprise, the Madison Opera closes its season with the local premiere of a “modern” opera, Florencia en el Amazonas. Its composer, Mexican-born Daniel Catán, was becoming one of the most important of recent opera composers until his untimely death at age 62 in 2011. Florencia en el Amazonas, his breakthrough work, is fascinating and provocative — but also complicated, with many levels of meaning ranging from the romantic to the symbolic… Scenically, the production is quite superb. The clever, wonderfully detailed set, designed for Arizona Opera, vividly represents the vessel and its journey, aided by imaginative lighting. Kristine McIntyre’s stage direction is full of apt movement… The seven important roles are as much about acting as singing, but both are brought off splendidly by this team… This is not the opera of Verdi and Puccini. It is opera of ideas, rather than of hit tunes. But it keeps one listening, and has one thinking long after the performance. I consider this one of the most important and representative operas of our time.
John W. Barker, Isthmus
An Operatic Love Boat Journeys through the Jungle in a Lush, Romantic Florencia en el Amazonas
Spring is a lovely time of year for a cruise. Madison Opera takes a lush, romantic journey down one of the longest rivers in the world in its closing production for the 2017-18 season, Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas… Inspired by the magical realism of novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez and staged with swirling, boldly colorful lighting by Marcus Dilliard, Florencia echoes the warmth and drama of Marquez’s epic love stories… Director Kristine McIntyre (Tales of Hoffmann, 2016) gives her performers free range… This looks like a cast that’s been performing together for months [in] McIntyre’s striking staging. Kanopy Dance modern dancers, choreographed by co-artistic director Lisa Thurrell, give scenes motion and color as they swirl through and around the ship… The most moving moments in Florencia come when magical realism reveals real emotions, as in Zabala’s poignant Act II aria or a heated duet of denial between the young lovers. The music and story are highly theatrical but when performers connect to the honesty beneath, something sparks on this South American ship and flames to beautiful life.
Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times
Madison Opera's Florencia Demonstrates What Opera Can Be
Madison Opera's weekend production of Florencia en el Amazonas may be the best example of the potential of opera to include all its art forms that we have seen in a long while. Although we tend to think of opera in terms of music – of sopranos and tenors singing arias and a symphony orchestra keeping things going – opera also depends on costumes and stage sets and lighting and, often, ballet or modern dance. What makes this production outstanding is the way it integrates all of the arts, so much so that it is difficult to imagine any of them standing alone… The lighting and stage management, the costumes, everything works so much in harmony that they create the magic that characterizes opera at its best. And because Catán's score is consistently beautiful... the music itself lends to this integrated concept. As does the Madison Symphony Orchestra, which, though not on stage, maintains the spellbinding effect of a very good opera.
Bill Wineke, Channel 3000
Utah’s New Moby Dick Sets Sail: It is Cause for Celebration that Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Epic Moby Dick has been Realized in a Handsome New Physical Production by Utah Opera
The original premier’s set design by Robert Brill seemed to me not only definitive, but almost inextricable from the work’s success. Problem is that only the largest, most solvent companies could accommodate its demands. The new, streamlined version on display in Salt Lake City not only keeps all of the fluid changes and atmospheric background for the monumental story, but actually also improves the stature of the work. With fewer eye-catching bells and whistles in the visuals, the ear is freed to pay closer attention to the bells and whistles in the score, and I was surprised how much richer I found Mr. Heggie’s accomplishment to be… As impressive as all of these demonstrably fine singers were singly, they were most remarkable for their impressive ensemble work, thanks to inspired direction from Kristine McIntyre. Ms. McIntyre thrives on large cast extravaganzas, managing to move masses of singers meaningfully about the playing space, all the while effectively focusing attention on solo moments as required. She crafted richly detailed character relationships, and seemed to effortlessly manufacture one telling stage picture after another. Having recently marveled at her Billy Budd at Des Moines Metro Opera, I am wondering if she is entering the nautical phase of her career? What’s next Kristine? Pinafore? Dutchman? I would sail well out of my way to see anything this talented director undertakes. She is especially adept at synchronized gestures, steps, and percussive effects, and there were many potent passages of unison group movement, with effective choreography incorporated by Daniel Charon… Still, this was such a stunning achievement full of so many memorable components, that it is easy to predict this winningly re-imagined Moby Dick will have a long and full run on national and world stages.
James Sohre, Opera Today
Moby Dick: Jake Heggie’s Masterwork Soars In Solid Production
Condensing a full-length novel down to an opera of manageable proportions is a daunting task. Sometimes the challenges seem insurmountable… A more fortuitous example is Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s adaptation of Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby-Dick for the stage. The operatic version manages to condense the book’s sprawling action into 2 1/2 hours without compromising the essential elements or the emotional power of the original. And since its premiere at the Dallas Opera in 2010, it’s proven its popularity with audiences at subsequent productions throughout the United States… The sets that Erhard Rom designed, and which were constructed at the Utah Opera Production Studios, were built specifically with an eye towards smaller theaters with limited stage space. And Rom’s design works remarkably well in the Capitol Theatre. It depicts the whaler “Pequod” as a deconstructed ship with its sides decorated by maps of seafaring explorers with their names and the dates of their legendary voyages. The sides are curved and seem to coalesce and flow into the wings of the theater. Consequently, the action and movement onstage don’t seem confined or constrained. There is also a raised platform around a large mast center stage that is decorated with a compass dial that revolves and allows for quick scene changes that keep the story moving along. The fact that the setting works so effortlessly is also due to director Kristine McIntyre’s deft blocking and staging that make full use of the available space. Working together, Rom and McIntyre have come up with a highly successful formula that should play well in other regional opera houses.
Edward Reich, OperaWire
Moby-Dick Opera Transforms a Massive Novel into a Human-Scaled Epic. Utah Opera Gives the World its First Look at a Stunning Reimagining
One of America’s most intimidating novels is now one of its most compelling operas. Utah Opera is presenting the first major reimagining of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s ambitious 2010 opera Moby-Dick... A full house of opera fans (including Heggie and Scheer) got their first look at this stunning new production at the Capitol Theatre Saturday night. Erhard Rom’s abstract set design, Jessica Jahn’s exhaustively researched costumes and Kristine McIntyre’s authoritative stage direction pull the audience into the action. McIntyre has made exceptionally intelligent use of the space, onstage and off, and wisely brought in choreographer Daniel Charon and four dancers to assist in the work of the ship. This might be the best use anyone has ever made of the Utah Opera Chorus, expertly prepared by new chorus master Michaella Calzaretta. The men not only sang powerfully but also threw themselves into the choreography’s rigorous physical demands… Capping this operatic triumph was the Utah Symphony’s vivid performance of Heggie’s rich score, conducted by Joseph Mechavich.
Catherine Reese Newton, Salt Lake Tribune
All Whale Breaks Loose in Utah Opera's Captivating Moby-Dick
As the long, brooding journey aboard the Pequod came to a close Saturday night, Utah Opera cast members were joined onstage by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer. If having the creators of the opera in attendance opening night instilled additional pressure on the performers, that pressure only seemed to work in their favor, as the cast transformed Herman Melville’s lengthy novel into a captivating, albeit dark, journey to hunt down Capt. Ahab’s nemesis, the massive white whale known by the name of Moby-Dick. It didn’t take long for Utah Opera’s production, under the guidance of stage director Kristine McIntyre, to take on a dark, almost cult-like feeling. Heggie’s music, simultaneously beautiful and ominous, began telling the story, and within a few minutes, the single-minded Ahab, portrayed in a terrifyingly convincing manner by tenor Roger Honeywell — peg leg and all — had members of his crew surrounding him and repeatedly chanting, “Death to Moby-Dick!”… In her telling of Melville’s story, stage director McIntyre made remarkable use of space on and off the stage… In addition to offering stirring vocals on and offstage, the Utah Opera Chorus took part in the rigorous demands of life on the ship, helping to propel the Pequod forward. Also aiding this effort were four dancers from Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company — a unique choice from McIntyre — whose choreography, under the direction of Ririe-Woodbury Artistic Director Daniel Charon, contributed to the continual movement and motion of life on the sea… If staging Moby-Dick represents a transition for Utah Opera as it begins to embrace a new wave of opera, Saturday night proved that the company is more than ready for the challenge. And if you’ve never been up to the challenge of reading the more-than-700-page epic novel, perhaps Utah Opera’s production of Moby-Dick will do the trick.
Lottie Peterson Johnson, Deseret News
A Fine Cast and Thoughtful Staging Help Jake Heggie’s Leviathan of an Opera to Sail Again
Moby Dick appeared destined to be cast adrift on the endless sea of operatic memory – until now. Enter Utah Opera, in this its 40th year, whose pioneering efforts have produced a simplified version that is not just available, it’s clearly downright viable as demonstrated by Kristine McIntyre’s modest yet intense new production. Of course, none of this would matter if Heggie and Scheer hadn’t created something lasting and worthwhile out of Melville’s sprawling novel of fixation, revenge and whalers on the high seas in search of blood and profit. But from the atmospheric seascape of the ‘overture’ onwards – its theme later identifiable with Ahab’s obsession – the power of score and story are undeniably compelling. Across two substantial acts, the 75-strong Utah Symphony under Joseph Mechavich do a superb job of bringing these resourceful scorings to life, playing with grace and strength in equal measure… But if Moby Dick is an opera worth the doing, Heggie and Scheer’s deftly boiled down take on the original epic is no pussycat to put on stage. There are harpoon chases, men overboard and a nasty case of St. Elmo’s fire to deal with, not to mention the chilling appearance of the baleful “white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw”, the twisted harpoons still peppering his flanks. Most, if not all of the above is tackled with aplomb by McIntyre through the agency of Erhard Rom’s clean-limbed sets, Marcus Dilliard’s sensitive lighting and Jessica Jahn’s carefully observed period costumes… McIntyre moves her players effectively around the space, adroitly solving many of the transitional problems. The feeling of claustrophobia can work to McIntyre’s advantage too, as when the gruesome rendering of whale blubber is forced to rub up against a sublimely peaceful trio… When the Mormons trundled into the Salt Lake valley back in 1847, the second building that Brigham Young planted in his new city was a theatre. If Utahans have traditionally proved pioneers and artists in equal measure, this fine and timely Moby Dick is just the latest in an honourable line.
Clive Paget, Limelight Magazine
Get Lost in the Heart of the Sea with Utah Opera’s Moby-Dick
In perhaps their greatest feat to date, Utah Opera premiered their re-imagining of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s masterwork Moby-Dick this last Saturday at the Capitol Theatre… Since its premiere in 2010, Moby-Dick has been regarded as a large and somewhat intimidating work to pull off. But Utah Opera, along with director Kristine McIntyre and conductor Joseph Mechavich saw the potential to present an accessible production so that this masterwork might be better showcased with more companies to more audiences. Design plays a crucial role in this remount, as the limitations of a mid-sized house are kept in mind when assembling the set and costumes. Set Designer Erhard Rom features elements that are abstract and presentational as the whole stage is covered in sea charts and maps. Then a more practical and representative side is then revealed as the show progresses with various units suddenly turning into masts, cots, longboats, whale blubber, and more, showcasing the ingenious imagination of Rom and the production team. What’s more, this imagination continues throughout the entirety of the piece, holding twists, turns, and surprises for the audience every step of the way… During the performance, dancers intermingle between singers and performers until it is almost impossible to tell who is who and all become members of the crew on the Pequod. Opera lovers and novices alike should try and make their way to Utah Opera’s imaginative production of the American classic Moby-Dick at the Capitol Theater. Being a practitioner of music and theatre, I often find myself trudging to the theatre filled with both anxiety and regret. Once I become involved in the art form, the flaws and faults become easy to spot. But sometimes I see a production that reinvigorates my faith in the theatre. Utah Opera’s production of Moby-Dick was such an experience for me, as it demonstrated theatre can still be a vehicle for imaginative, accessible, and creative art. Don’t miss this fantastic offering here in Salt Lake City.
Spicer W. Carr, Front Row Reviewers Utah
Massenet’s Marvelous Manon
Opera Santa Barbara pulled off a major artistic coup last weekend, presenting a sprawling and splendid production of Jules Massenet’s opera Manon at the Granada theatre… A beautifully balanced cast, featuring soprano Sarah Coburn in the title role, delivered an entertainment that was both amusing and serious, no small feat… Stage Director Kristine McIntyre, in her OSB debut, kept the action onstage believable as well as purposeful, including Manon’s incredibly powerful and moving death scene. 150 glorious rococo costumes from Sydney Opera added period accuracy and eye-arresting color to the production, abetted by Scenic Director Keith Brumley and Lighting Director Marcus Dilliard (OSB debut) who made magic happen with Des Moines Metro Opera’s scenery. Especially memorable, the gates of Saint Sulpice and the gaming salon at the Hotel de Transylvanie, drenched in bordello red.
Daniel Kepl, Voice Magazine
In Review: Des Moines Metro Opera 45th Anniversary Summer Festival
The weekend concluded July 9 with Kristine McIntyre's spectacular mounting of Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd. DMMO scored a coup in commissioning Britten specialist Steuart Bedford to craft an orchestral reduction that may finally enable other small-scale opera companies to approach the opera. It was stunning... Brumley's design cleverly transformed the playing circle into the bow of the Indomitable. There was a marvelous effect when the exceptional ensemble leapt upon the railing to unleash a mammoth wave of golden sound for "This is Our Moment." Barry Steele's projections left the audience with a final image of Billy vanishing for eternity into the enveloping seas. This Billy Budd was an extraordinary theatrical experience and showed DMMO at its zenith.
Mark Thomas Ketterson, Opera News
Billy Budd Indomitable in Des Moines
It is hard to know where to begin to praise the peerless accomplishment that is Des Moines Metro Opera’s staggeringly powerful Billy Budd. In the intimate Blank Performing Arts Center space, we are not so much observing a wrenching drama as we are participating in it… I had never experienced an opera this large and active in such an intimate space, and director Kristine McIntyre did a masterful job filling every nook and cranny with meaningful action and carefully rehearsed “spontaneity” without putting us on sensory overload. Having successfully negotiated this huge group around that limited space, I think Ms. McIntyre is ready to be a traffic controller at O’Hare. But she also knew when to let her forces be still. When Lisa Hasson’s impeccable chorus and the soloists stood and poured out their climactic, overwhelming war cry in Act Two, it was electrifying in its raw emotion. Kristine also knows how to wring every conceivable variation out of well-motivated blocking, usage of levels, and meaningful character relationships. Each of the principals clearly understood the dynamic and arc of their roles, and the monologues were coached and crafted like one act plays. This was a remarkable directorial realization, one that nurtured faultless ensemble playing as well as encouraging stand-alone personal bests… I have seen six other good productions of this piece over my years of opera going and I have always thought that, when all its planets align, it should make me weep but it never quite did. Well, Mission Accomplished. When Vere sang his final, diminishing statements, and the “sail” descended from above with its projection of rolling waves; and when the final projections first showed a silhouette of Billy’s hanging corpse, then morphed to Billy’s wrapped body floating to the depths, and then to Billy’s handsome face dissolving into the waves; well, this was a moment of surpassing beauty. And damn if the tears aren’t streaming again right now.
James Sohre, OperaToday
World-Class Opera Grows Tall and Proud in the Corn Belt
Its 467 seats arranged in a dozen curved rows, the Pote Theater draws you into the action in ways impossible to achieve in such gargantuan theaters as the Civic Opera House. Patrons in the front row sit within touching distance of the performers. The sunken orchestra pit, surrounded by a thrust stage, is a design element, doubling, for example, as the ship's hold of the HMS Indomitable, the 18th century British battleship that is the setting of Billy Budd. Britten's Melville-based 1951 masterpiece is badly neglected in America (Lyric Opera has mounted it only twice since giving the U.S. stage premiere in 1970). DMMO makes the strongest possible case for repertory status. These are the first performances of a new performing edition based on a reduced orchestration by Britten scholar and conductor Steuart Bedford that cuts back on winds and percussion (a good thing, given the space restrictions of the Pote pit). Neely's firmly paced conducting provided a rock-solid foundation for the superior singing and acting of a large all-male ensemble at the performance I caught last weekend. Kristine McIntyre moved human traffic with telling dramatic detail within a handsome, realistic British frigate-set by designer R. Keith Brumley,… speeding the tragedy to its devastating conclusion with nary a false step.
John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune
A Stunning Production of Billy Budd
Brawny sailors are crawling literally out of the woodwork in Billy Budd at the Des Moines Metro Opera—up from below through a grate, high into the rigging, even onto a curving bannister to (almost) barf overboard. There are so many hands on deck, with the cannons and all, you start to wonder if their ship might sink. But as numerous as they seem, this crew and the below-deck orchestra are among the leanest teams to ever tackle this extraordinary show. The Indianola company, punching above its weight, as usual, commissioned a new arrangement of Benjamin Britten’s 1951 score, pared down for a smaller ensemble by Steuart Bedford, one of the late composer’s closest associates. The results are stunning. Under conductor David Neely’s baton, the orchestra floods the Blank Performing Arts Center with a mysterious swirl of eddies and undercurrents, which, like the ocean, is powerful but ultimately indifferent to the soloists on the surface. Only rarely do the singers and instrumentalists swim in the same harmonic direction, rendering those moments of confluence even more beautiful for their scarcity. The story, directed by Kristine McIntyre, tacks closely to Herman Melville’s final novel, about a young man who joins the crew of a British warship in the paranoid summer of 1797, when threats from the French and rumors of mutiny filled the air like fog… Behind the scenes, the technical crew is guided by the vision of scenic designer R. Keith Brumley and lighting wizard Barry Steele, who somehow built an 18th century man-of-war here in the middle of Iowa. The captain’s cabin slides out like a cabinet drawer. The sailors sleep in hammocks below deck. And above, video projections of the ocean ripple across a giant sail.
Michael Morain, DSM Magazine
Toledo Opera Production of Vanessa is a Work of Art
The Toledo Opera’s spring production of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa is, in short, art with a capital “A.” This riveting drama lays, brick by brick and note by note, a masterful framework of musical genius that leaves the listener at curtain call wondering whether to sit weeping at its pathos or stand speechless at its beauty. The evening is a dark and seething morass of intrigue and tension. Stage director Kristine McIntyre has made brilliant artistic choices which underscore why the 1958 musical drama won the Pulitzer Prize… Video projections designed by Michael Baumgarten create the illusion of space and mood. The music begins and within two minutes the mind fills in everything that is missing. The orchestra disappears. As if by magic, the audience finds itself lost in a mansion somewhere in the middle of Europe. Snow and ice are everywhere, both on the ground and in the hearts of those whose lives we are soon to plumb. The drama unfolds and the lack of stage decoration pushes the emotional grinding forward with a palpable intimacy, demanding the audience’s attention. The all-star cast, only seven singing roles, interacts with ferocious tension that can be cut with a knife… Particular mention should be made of two exquisite dramatic moments: the second-act scene where Vanessa and Erika share the glory of grand ballroom dances gone by, and the quintet finale that prophetically reveals the awaiting fate of each of the principals… Yet the whole of this Vanessa packs an aesthetic impact that approaches artistic perfection.
Wayne F. Anthony, The Blade
Soldier Songs' Drama is Unprecedented
I don’t think I’ve ever come away from an opera quite so shaken as I did from Sunday’s Des Moines Metro Opera final staging of David T. Little’s Soldier Songs at Camp Dodge in Johnston. High emotional drama is what you expect when you go to the opera. But baritone Michael Mayes’ charged performance of this modern multimedia theater-piece based on combat veterans’ interviews was practically unprecedented in DMMO’s almost half-century history. With generous and indispensable help from Camp Dodge and Veterans Administration Central Iowa Health Care Services staff, DMMO General & Artistic Director Michael Egel has brought out the most compelling show yet in his new “2nd Stages Series” of opera performances… The Camp Dodge Drill Hall, a bare, airplane-hangar-sized room fitted with military displays and metal scaffolding hung with dozens of TV monitors, proved a perfect setting for scenic designer Adam Crinson’s set, a three-quarters-round thrust stage with real Humvees in two corners and a raised platform for the seven-player contemporary chamber ensemble in another… In a Q&A following the performance, both Egel and Mayes spoke, enthusiastically and movingly, of how vital it had felt to them to bring Soldier Songs to an active military base, to emphasize the contemporary relevance of this fine piece and the importance of the questions it poses. Stage director Kristine McIntyre, also on the panel, noted that this new production was for her – and for the composer, who had been here earlier in the week – unusually meaningful for the help they had received from military personnel and families (who had witnessed the rehearsal process) in understanding both the horrors of war and how artistic endeavor can bridge the chasm between combatants and civilians. And panelist David Neely, DMMO music director and the conductor of this production, echoed the full-house audience’s standing ovation when he described what a moving experience it had been for him to make drama with an artist as talented and committed, and as brutally honest, as Mayes.
Bruce Carr, Des Moines Register
The Place Where You Started: Love From Afar
Portland State University’s world premiere... [is] crackling with rapid-fire texting, laptop creations, video, and heated dinner-party arguments over immigration politics. This contemporary orientation is essential for a college opera program that develops tomorrow’s opera musicians. PSU’s acclaimed opera program has long been renowned for its professional-level productions (thanks to donor generosity) of standard operatic fare, but Place also marks the debut of not just a new opera, but also a new fall PSU series that opera studies director Christine Meadows aims to include new and non-standard operas that speak to today’s concerns, instead of endlessly fetishizing the 18th and 19th century Top Ten... Director Kristine McIntyre crisply squeezed maximum effect out of PSU’s Lincoln Studio Theater’s tiny stage and secured uniformly convincing performances... Place benefited from its minimalist surroundings. Complemented by Kayla Scrivner and Abigail Vaughan’s sharp, spare set and tech design, [Omar Ramos'] spiffy projections transform the tiny stage into, successively, the exterior and Ikea-white interior of the suburban home Meredith shares with her obnoxious boyfriend Steve (well-played with believable clinginess by Alex Trull), LA skylines, unspecified Latin American streetscapes, a holding cell, and (sometimes hilariously) Meredith’s cheesy vampire romance screenplay-in-progress. As Meredith’s imagined scenarios change, so does the projected scenery. Other images appear: handwritten poetry that Punt wrote in Meredith’s voice, tropical flowers, book covers, seed packets. Given opera’s inherent economic challenges, smart use of technology makes this show much more portable and produceable than most. As these shows... and many of the other new operas now flourishing around the country prove, as long as the art form engages timely and timeless human emotions, using words and music that speak to people in our own century, it will thrive.
Brett Campbell, Oregon ArtsWatch
PSU Opera Superb in World Premiere of The Place Where You Started
It is a rare day when a college music department presents the world premiere of an opera, and even rarer still that such a production would be timely, relevant, and superbly done, but Portland State University’s opera program brought it all to fruition with its performance of The Place Where You Started on Friday, November 18th at the Lincoln Hall Studio Theater. Written by Mark Lanz Weiser with a libretto by Amy Punt, The Place Where You Started deftly handled themes that dealt with love, loss, illegal aliens, and fear. Delivered by six singers and a pianist, the music subtly blended dissonance with harmonic lines and worked naturally with the outstanding stage directions of Kristine McIntyre... [Omar Ramos'] evocative projections enhanced the production with excellent visual cues, such as portions of the movie script that Meredith was working on. One of McIntyre’s best directions involved Meredith typing and mouthing the words of her characters (Lucinda/ Erickson and Roland/Ramaley) as they sang them... Kudos to Meadows and all involved in this effort. Hopefully, those performances will serve as a springboard for more productions of this remarkable opera.
James Bash, Northwest Reverb
New York Chronicle, Music: Jane Eyre by Louis Karchin
[Louis Karchin] tells the story through the orchestra, as much as the singers, with their words. This is a symphonic opera as much as a vocal one. Karchin writes like a man who has lived with opera, although Jane Eyre is only his second opera, and his first full-length one. Ah, well: Beethoven wrote just one opera. So did Gershwin. In the Kaye Playhouse, Jane Eyre was served by a very good production, overseen by the director Kristine McIntyre. Use of video was intelligent. At every turn, the production enhanced the story, libretto, and music, rather than overtaking them... The composer, and the librettist, and the stage director—and the novelist, Charlotte Brontë—had me the whole way. That may seem like faint praise. But it is not. The ending was moving, as Jane returns to Rochester, in his wrecked physical state. I thought, “This opera, in its warmth, beauty, and goodness, is brave.”
Jay Nordlinger, New Criterion
In Review: Jane Eyre, Center for Contemporary Opera
CCO's premiere production of Louis Karchin's Jane Eyre on October 20 at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College... Karchin (b. 1951), a New York University professor whom Andrew Porter called a composer of 'fearless eloquence,' proved himself a master of his craft... CCO served Jane Eyre well, especially in the casting of the leading roles with Jennifer Zetlan as Jane and Ryan McPherson as Rochester, who brought their characters to vivid vocal and dramatic life... The production, keenly directed by Kristine McIntyre with scenery designed by Luke Cantarella and costumes by Rachel Townsend, suggested a measure of manor house opulence... [and] Sarah Jobin conducted an involving performance of the work, scored for a traditional orchestra.
George Loomis, Opera Magazine (London)
New Louis Karchin & Diane Osen Opera, Presented by CCO, Traces Tribulations of Jane Eyre & Edward Rochester
There were striking ensembles, as when Zetlan and McPherson sang with soprano Kimberly Giordano, as Mrs. Fairfax, his housekeeper, and mezzo-soprano Jessica Best, as Bessie, to close Act One, and when Rochester and the Ingrams—soprano Jessica Thompson as haughty Mrs. Ingram, baritone Thomas Meglioranza as Roderick, and soprano Katrina Thurman as Blanche, who would be Edward’s bride—discussed Donizetti operas…. Kudos go to director Kristine McIntyre and designers Luke Cantarella (sets and video), Burke Brown (lighting) and Rachel Townsend (costumes).
Bruce-Michael Gelbert, Q Onstage
In Review: Manon, Des Moines Metro Opera
Des Moines Metro Opera celebrated their forty-fourth season with a trio of productions that offered an impressive level of depth and detail as well as some genuine theatrical thrills… On July 3, Kristine McIntyre’s meticulously crafted production of Massenet’s Manon was graced by a brace of principals who displayed extraordinary dramatic commitment… The Saint-Sulpice interlude was as sexy as it gets with these two… R. Keith Brumley’s setting was grounded by a series of panels in gilded frames that revolved to variously suggest a Fragonard-inspired landscape, or the mirrored walls of a gambling house washed in lurid red by lighting designer Barry Steele. Neely elegantly propelled the orchestra through a discreetly edited version of the score. This Manon was the most cogent mounting of Massenet’s opera on the regional market in memory, and would have made an ideal introduction to the art form for anyone… This was a most satisfying season with something of appeal for any operatic connoisseur.
Mark Thomas Ketterson, OPERA NEWS
Manon Features High Glamour, Fine Singing
If you’re looking for high theatrical glamour and exceptionally fine singing, you can hardly do better than the Des Moines Metro Opera’s brilliant production of Jules Massenet’s Manon, which opened last Saturday night at the Blank Performing Arts Center… Massenet’s music is renowned for its beauty, characteristic charm, and professional polish; it’s designed to match exactly all the scenes and situations of his plot... Musical director and principal conductor David Neely conducted the DMMO orchestra convincingly, especially in the boisterous carnival scene, and the Opera’s chorus, prepared again this season by chorus master Lisa Hasson, was excellent, whether as peasants, or rich courtiers, or carnival-goers, or offstage nuns. The chorus, and stage director Kristine McIntyre and scenic designer R. Keith Brumley, took special applause for a couple of striking tableaux vivants at the beginnings of acts… And not the least glamorous aspect of this production of Massenet’s Manon (which DMMO has presented only once before, in 1976) are the truly glamorous costumes, opulent silk and brocaded gowns and lace petticoats, knee breeches and vests, all in the most astonishingly subtly shaded pastels, provided by Opera Australia.
Bruce Carr, Des Moines Register
The affair started on a lark a few years earlier and will end in tragedy a bit later, plunging in emotional tone like a sunny summer day that finishes with a storm. But along the way, the glory of Jules Massenet’s 1884 score seems to shine only brighter, illuminated by the radiant talents of California soprano Sydney Mancasola, as Manon, and the Texas tenor Joseph Dennis, as the young Chevalier des Grieux. They sang so persuasively at Saturday’s opening at the Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola that you could almost believe the unbelievable story… Director Kristine McIntyre, whose previous work for the company includes a dark and stark reading of Dead Man Walking, takes a different tack here, wrapping the stage and its players in all the glamour of Versailles in the early 1700s. Elegant sets (by R. Keith Brumley) and lavish costumes [by R. Kirk] conjure up the “boudoir world” of Madame de Pompadour, as McIntyre notes in the program, when society women wielded power in a surprisingly modern way… What starts with a smile ends with a shudder.
Michael Morain, DSM Magazine
The Lady Packs a Wallop
Sydney Mancasola comes to Des Moines between assignments in Berlin and London, playing the title character in Manon, one of opera’s great tragic heroines. She commands the stage on the strength of her voice alone, a soprano that, even as it soars, suggests midnight chocolate and cabernet. What matters most, though, is her range as an actor. Mancasola wrings terrific feeling out of a face that, by itself, can set folks staring. Her features don’t just light up or darken, but also add shades of innocence or sophistication. Is this a star? In any case, it’s the biggest “wow” in a breathtaking show.
Such high-key colors contribute to the show’s pleasure... the brilliant costumes by Roger Kirk are used to full effect, especially in the skillful arrangements director Kristine McIntyre gives the group scenes. The crowd around the casino table at the start of Act III — a throng in firecracker red and gold — prompted applause as soon as the curtain went up. McIntyre also found ways to capture the tensions in less crowded scenes. Early on, Manon’s cousin Lescaut insists to her that he knows best, and a spirited girl like her belongs in a nunnery. Lescaut even enlists a couple of fellow soldiers to help while Manon stands apart, arms crossed, plainly conflicted... The power of Manon, however, depends on the love story. The goddess demands a disciple worthy of her, and tenor Joseph Dennis proves up to the task. As the tormented Chevalier des Grieux, when Dennis duets with the woman he calls an “astonishing sphinx,” he winds up with his chin hanging out. He’s practically begging to be hit. The melody may feel like a caress, but the lady packs a wallop.
John Domini, DSM Cityview
Operatic Wonder: Madison Opera’s Tales of Hoffmann is an Absolute Triumph
Both visually and musically, Madison Opera’s production of Jacques Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann is an absolute triumph — perhaps the finest achievement yet under Kathryn Smith’s reign as general director. It is a long and a difficult opera to cope with. Offenbach died before he could put his score into definitive shape. There are loose ends, and music not written by Offenbach himself has been added to revised editions, including the spurious “diamond” aria and the sextet in the Venice act. Since a Prologue and an Epilogue are set in Luther’s tavern (here, a 1920s bar), director Kristine McIntyre had the clever idea of presenting each of the full acts as performances on a stage-within-the-stage, with the onstage audience serving as bar patrons. The direction was aided by a set [designed by Erhard Rom], an extremely clever and versatile multi-piece construction... Costumes, lighting, the full visual panoply are admirably handled, but director McIntyre is the magician who makes it all come together with seamless flow and clever ideas. As always, conductor John DeMain leads this excellent production with unalloyed devotion to the work.
John W. Barker, Isthmus
Opera Review: Hoffmann Pines, Drinks and Chases Skirts in Madison Opera's Decadent Tales
Director Kristine McIntyre (“Dead Man Walking,” Madison Opera 2014) embraces the theatrical frame of Hoffmann in both the tone and style of her dynamic staging. She takes the chorus of flappers and tuxedoed gentlemen in the prologue and epilogue and makes them onstage spectators. Hoffmann may appear as a character, but we (and they) hear the stories through his eyes. The other constants are Hoffmann’s Muse, sung in a tux by the charming mezzo Adriana Zabala, and a devious baritone villain, who takes different guises throughout the opera… Maestro John DeMain leads the orchestra, which has a lush, nuanced sound fitting with the opera’s soaring highs and lows. Of particular note are the winds, including a lively flute in Act I and a sumptuous violin line in Act II.
Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times
Classical Music: Madison Opera’s “Tales of Hoffmann” Proved a Musical and Theatrical Delight from Beginning to End
I had been looking forward to Madison Opera’s production of The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach ever since it was announced. The opera is a particular favorite of mine, and I’ve seen a number of productions in larger houses, most recently in Tokyo and most memorably a production at the San Francisco Opera 30 years ago with Placido Domingo and James Morris. I was interested to see how Madison Opera would approach this somewhat theatrically difficult work, and Sunday’s performance was a delight from beginning to end.
The production was set in a well-stocked bar, and Hoffmann’s series of bad choices in love appeared fueled by alcohol. The set, from the Virginia Opera, and costumes were dazzling, particularly in the Giulietta act, which in a departure from the productions I’ve seen, was the third act. I felt that the change of the order of the acts made a lot of sense dramatically. And I loved the use by stage director Kristine McIntyre of the Roaring Twenties theme – flappers and Charlestons, along with gondolas, fog and a bit of German Expressionism. Total fun. The Madison Symphony Orchestra was excellent throughout, and Maestro John DeMain is a treasure whom Madison is extremely fortunate to have. His sense of timing and dynamics is a wonder. My favorite moment of the opera is the ensemble in the Giulietta scene “Hélas Mon Coeur,” and its performance Sunday nearly brought me to tears… So, bravo Madison Opera, for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon at the opera.
Larry Wells, The Well-Tempered Ear
The Tender Land, Detroit, Michigan Opera Theater, 3/12/16
Michigan Opera Theater’s staging of The Tender Land (seen Mar. 12) was a charming, heartfelt production... The curtain opened on saturated color and high contrast: a flaxen farmhouse and barn, a field of wheat, and a wide blue sky strewn with clouds. Against this canvas, lighting designer Marcus Dilliard seamlessly turned day to night to day, with soft purple dusk and vibrant streaks of pink at dawn. Monika Essen’s production design was often excellent: pale day dresses were appropriately understated and Laurie’s graduation dress was all pink lace and charm... Director Kristine McIntyre summoned authentic, tender performances from this company of young singers despite a score whose drama is sometimes abrupt and whose emotions aren’t always earned. Under conductor Suzanne Mallare Acton’s baton, the small chamber orchestra was sumptuous and colorful.
Jennifer Goltz-Taylor, OPERA NEWS
MOT Brings Populist Opera to the People with Copland's The Tender Land
No 20th Century composer understood heartland America better than Aaron Copland. No composer championed the common man the way Copland did. The music for his opera The Tender Land, the current Michigan Opera Theatre production, echoes the thrum of the plow, the rustle of dry grain, the creak of aching bones and the trill of a meadowlark. Its tempo is paced to the setting sun and the pulse of hearts that yearn for something they cannot name. Aaron Copland's heartfelt music and a quintessentially American story make this production of The Tender Land by Michigan Opera Theatre one for the "must see" list. The Tender Land is an intimate, unsentimental treatment of New Deal-era America and the hard living eked out by those in the isolated farming communities that dotted the Midwest. It’s a perfect choice for MOT’s second annual community-initiative opera… This MOT production of The Tender Land is a rare treat that area patrons should rush to see.
Patty Nolan, Detroit Examiner
MOT's Tender Land Evokes the American Heartland
Michigan Opera Theatre's push beyond the borders of the Detroit Opera House has been couched in terms of audience building, but it's also paying artistic dividends by opening doors to modern and contemporary American repertoire that doesn't fit comfortably within the company's 2,700-seat downtown home... MOT's alluring new production of Aaron Copland's The Tender Land (1954), which opened Saturday at the Macomb Center and moves to Taylor this weekend, is likewise too intimate for the opera house. Copland's only full-length opera, The Tender Land tells a coming-of-age tale a young woman on a Midwestern farm in the 1930s. She's caught between the smothering expectations of her family and her dreams of life and love beyond the borders of her rural town. Dramatic and musical flaws have kept the opera from cracking the standard repertoire. But MOT's rewarding production — highlighted by an energetic young cast and Monika Essen's attractive set design of blue sky, golden fields and functional A-frame structures — honors the best intentions of Copland's elegiac scores and Erik Johns' uneven libretto. The production makes a persuasive case that the opera deserves a higher profile.
Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press
The Tender Land: Copland’s Look at Small-Town Life
Michigan Opera Theatre’s fine new production offers a chance to look at this somewhat lesser known piece from many angles. But most of all, it is a beautifully rendered, well sung, visually appealing night (or day) of music theatre.
The simple but gorgeous production design by Monika Essen and lighting by Marcus Dilliard present a peach-colored dream of a Midwestern farm. In this time and place we meet the Moss family, their friends, and two strangers.
Kristine McIntyre has guided the young cast well and staged the movement wonderfully. Of particular note is the second-act party, brimming with life and activity.
This is the third time Michigan Opera Theatre has produced this opera… This time around it’s also a highlight of another innovative MOT project, the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio, giving us a glimpse of young talent who, like Laurie, are just starting their journey. We look forward to where that will take them.
Amy J. Parrent, Encore Michigan
Opera Review: Austin Opera’s Of Mice and Men
Director Kristine McIntyre organizes the cast, on a couple of occasions, into poses that imitate iconic dust bowl photographs, and recognizing these is a thrill… the acting, the sense of modernity and the stunning finale are reason enough to seek out this opera. An opera told in English, about a story most viewers are familiar with is capable of subtly changing how one sees the art form. In the end, it all comes down to George and Lennie and the performances here seal the deal.
Luke Quinton, The Austin American-Statesman
Austin Opera’s Of Mice and Men
Combining a love of classic literature and amazing music—it’s not an easy task… [but] the Austin Opera—they skillfully and successfully conveyed all of the intricate themes of the book... The orchestra was phenomenal, the props, backdrops, and costumes were perfect… Every effort made by the composer, director, and cast did not go unnoticed—it was flawless.
Alysha Kaye, Texas Lifestyle Magazine
Peabody Opera Takes Big Step with Street Scene
For the fifth year, Peabody Opera Theatre stepped outside the conservatory campus and headed a few blocks north to stage a work at the Lyric. This season's choice was ambitious and welcome - Kurt Weill's richly detailed Street Scene… Last weekend, Street Scene looked terrific - a multi-story set (Luke Cantarella), subtly lit (Douglas Nelson) and fleshed out with atmospheric projections that gave the text an extra boost at key moments; assured, vibrant stage direction (Kristine McIntyre, who also trimmed the spoken dialogue judiciously). No comparison to the bare-bones stagings Peabody Opera has previously offered at the Lyric. The classy visuals helped enormously to serve this masterful look at the poorer side of American city life. Causing only a few little incongruities, the setting for the opera was changed in this case from New York to Baltimore, but the essence (and the 1940s time period) remained in place… a Street Scene worth visiting.
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun
Giovanni Goes Noir
The ultimate womanizing sociopath has taken up temporary residence at the Kauffman Center. Don Giovanni has come to the Lyric Opera. The Lyric’s production of Mozart’s opera opened on Saturday night to an enthusiastic and appreciative audience, who encountered a Don Giovanni reconceived in the style of film noir by director Kristine McIntyre. With a stark cityscape set designed by R. Keith Brumley accompanied by the dramatic lighting design by Marcus Dilliard, the atmosphere of this production matches the barren and desolate soul of Mozart’s antihero whose life is a long, evil road to destruction. In a palette of blacks, whites, and grays, costume designer Mary Traylor’s creations are chic and sophisticated and fully evocative of a Philip Marlow-esque world.
Da Ponte’s libretto makes clear that Giovanni’s fate is sealed the moment he commits murder. The Commendatore is his Angel of Judgment shadowing him through his last days, ready to exact moral retribution. This film noir concept is a viable interpretation of Don Giovanni; it highlights the underlying darkness, full of betrayal, sexual conquest and domination, and murder. There are always some incongruities between text and setting when removing a libretto from its historical context; there are some here that are occasionally distracting and Giovanni’s final punishment, while not traditional, is consistent with this concept. However, McIntyre’s direction is a stunning success, capturing the essence of this opera’s power and moral struggle.
Sarah Young, KC Metropolis
Lyric Opera Captures Menace of Don Giovanni in Stylish Film Noir Production
The Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s film noir production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni was a successful, stylized modernization. Director Kristine McIntyre’s concept works for the opera, with its violence, ambiguous morals, beautiful women, ominous setting and, of course, the unrepentant leading man. Mozart’s genius score, with poetic and humorous libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, thrilled Saturday’s audience in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre.
The production team created a convincing film noir universe with R. Keith Brumley’s gloomy back-alley-to-nightclub sets, lighting by Marcus Dilliard casting looming shadows, and Mary Traylor’s tailored, elegant costumes, enhanced by Alison Hanks’ wig/makeup design.
Libby Hanssen, The Kansas City Star
Portland State Opera Review: Tasty Amuse-Bouches
A pair of food related one act operas are on the menu this weekend at Portland State. The gawky Child, known as much for bringing French cuisine to middle America as she is for dropping a roast on air and recommencing her recipe with aplomb, is easy to make fun of, but she’s not easy to do right. Mezzo-soprano Christine Meadows, longtime PSU opera director, channels Julia seamlessly from helmet hair and pearls (and a clean towel at her waist) to her lilting phrasing. Presenting her cake, she sings/yodels: “It is nicer than a soufflé because it doesn’t fall!” in a crescendo of exuberance. The audience howled. Meadows juggles real butter and cream, pans, wine and esprit as she sings Lee Hoiby’s opera that premiered at the Kennedy Center in 1989. The late American composer based the libretto on two episodes of The French Chef, Child’s public TV cooking show that ran from 1963-1973. Mark Shulgasser reworked the episodes for the opera, and for this production Meadows and stage director Kristine McIntyre watched numerous hours of Child “performing” her unpredictable food magic on the cooking program. All the effort shows… She captures Child’s love of life and food.
Angela Allen, Oregon ArtsWatch
PSU Opera Serves Up Delicious Doctor Miracle and Bon Appétit
Portland State Opera inaugurated its new fall term production with delightful performances of Georges Bizet’s Doctor Miracle and Lee Hoiby’s Bon Appétit. Presented before a packed house at the Studio Theater in Lincoln Hall, both one-act productions admirably showed off the artistic and comic talents of the performers. Doctor Miracle was performed by a superb student cast, and Bon Appétit featured PSU Opera director Christine Meadows as Julia Child.
After intermission, the audience was treated to a second course, Hoiby’s Bon Appétit, which was adapted by Mark Shulgasser from transcripts of two episodes of Julia Child’s The French Chef, a popular TV show that ran from 1963 to 1973. In teaching the audience how to make a Le Gâteau au Chocolat L’Éminence Brune, a classic French chocolate cake, Meadows nailed the persona and gestures of Child so well that it was outrageously funny and sort of flabbergasting at one gulp. The way she would blithely toss a pan or another cooking implement to the side or fling flour all over the place caused buckets of laughter to erupt from the audience. At one point, after downing a glass of wine during a pause in the process, she would warn us that “You don’t want to go out and play croquet.” At another point, she can’t resist putting a chocolate-laden spatula into her mouth and giving us a tantalizing um! Vocally, Meadows’s voice is still delicious to the ears, and she was supported with playful sensitivity by pianist Janet Coleman. Stage directions by Kristine McIntyre dished up platefuls of humor. It was a performance that Meadows should repeat at one of the hoity-toity restaurants in the Pearl. Seconds anyone?!
James Bash, Northwest Reverb
IN REVIEW: Jenůfa, Des Moines, IA
The festival presentations were crowned by director Kristine McIntyre’s stunning mounting of Janáček’s Jenůfa on July 5, which fielded an exciting breakthrough performance from Sara Gartland in the title role… R. Keith Brumley’s… presentational chrome and timber concept for the Janáček was complete with formidable mill wheel that began grinding away during the overture. Barry Steele’s lighting complemented each environment deftly. Lisa Hasson’s chorus was fine throughout. DMMO’s quality continues to ratchet up exponentially with each successive season.
Mark Thomas Ketterson, OPERA NEWS
Jenůfa Packs a Wallop at DMMO
There are few operas that can rival the visceral impact of a well-staged Jenůfa and Des Moines Metro Opera has emphatically delivered the goods… Director Kristine McIntyre exerted a sure hand over the proceedings, and the unique thrust stage space with its (almost) bisecting pit did not hamper her development of character relationships or crowd control. In fact, it seemed to liberate her, and she filled the stage with crackling confrontations, mournful soliloquies, and delightful motion. In the party scenes, she was ably abetted by choreographer Kyle Lang who devised lively folk-like dances that were as varied as they were cleanly executed. R. Keith Brumley’s austere set design provided a perfect environment for the piece. Mr. Brumley crafted a series of intersecting, overlapping tiered platforms that spilled off staged and surrounded the pit, constructed of rude, weathered planks. It aptly suggested the simple, rustic life, all the while giving the director an enviable number of levels, an opportunity that Ms. McIntyre capitalized on handsomely. The large spinning mill wheel that was upstage for Act One, gave way to a skeletal structure of a farmhouse in Act Two, and produced a coup de theatre in Act Three as the walls came crashing down as Kostelnička’s deception falls prey to the truth.
James Sohre, Opera Today
Utah Opera’s Pearl Fishers is a Treasure Worth Seeking
Georges Bizet's The Pearl Fishers is a bit of an operatic rarity for a couple of reasons: a dodgy libretto and some music that not every tenor can pull off. Utah Opera's current production, the work's Utah premiere, answers both those challenges with authority, making this Pearl Fishers a treasure worth seeking out... Kristine McIntyre's clear, intelligent stage direction ensured that the audience didn't get hung up on the implausibilities of the plot.
Catherine Reese Newton, The Salt Lake Tribune
Portland Opera's Bilingual Production of The Barber of Seville Examines Love and Language Barriers
Midway through the Portland Opera's school production of The Barber of Seville, Count Almaviva still couldn't pronounce Bartolo's name. No matter how many times he tried, the tenor couldn't nail the rolling Spanish r. Students at Vancouver's Columbia Valley Elementary cackled and rocked with laughter. The opera had turned a real-world communication issue into comedy. The pronunciation fumble is one of a dozen such moments in the abridged and re-imagined version of the 1816 opera being staged at 62 Oregon and Washington schools this spring.
Kristine McIntyre, who adapts longer operas for the short school productions, didn't want to create a version where characters simply alternated lines in English and Spanish. "There should be a reason this is bilingual," she said. The group agreed The Barber of the Seville would be a natural fit. The original opera's plot revolves around impaired communication. The lovers try to reach each other, but something always gets in their way. What if, McIntyre suggested, language was the barrier keeping the lovers apart?... Halfway through his Figaros, Ramirez-Solano began pointing at the students. The goal, he said later, was to acknowledge that many of the kids play the role of Figaro in their own world. Playing the part of translator is taxing, but important, he said. Figaro helps the lovers connect. "They end up enjoying a wonderful conversation," Ramirez-Solano said. "There is friendship. There is love. We can overcome all kinds of differences simply by communicating."
Casey Parks, The Oregonian
Pittsburgh Opera restores Verdi's classic Otello to Grand Status
Giuseppe Verdi at his greatest filled the Benedum Center on Nov. 8 when Pittsburgh Opera gave the first of four performances of Otello, last seen here in 1990. Opening night of this production included some outstanding vocalism, superb shaping of the music drama by conductor Antony Walker, and excellent stage direction by Kristine McIntyre.
Mark Kanny, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
THEATER REVIEW: Dead Man Walking, Des Moines Metro Opera
Everyone involved with the powerhouse production of Dead Man Walking covered themselves in glory. This was music- and theatre-making of the highest order… Director Kristine McIntyre not only honed dramatic moments of unerring dramatic accuracy, but also mined every ounce of humor in the work, striking a powerful balance… I cannot imagine a more powerful production of this engrossing opera.
James Sohre, Opera Today
Dead Man Walking Opera is Surprisingly Beautiful
Just moments after the murders in the prologue of Dead Man Walking, even as the two naked bodies are sliding offstage on rolling platforms, the Catholic nun Helen Prejean appears in a stark spotlight and begins to sing: "He will gather us around, all around.” And gather we did for the Iowa premiere of Jake Heggie's searing but surprisingly beautiful opera, … the perceptive director Kristine McIntyre (last year's Peter Grimes, 2012's Eugene Onegin) plays up the real-life story's psychological drama and the lonely torment the nun and prisoner must endure on their own. In their first meetings, they sing to each other from opposite sides of the orchestra pit, barely bridging the gap between two very different worlds… One scene flows seamlessly into the next, which ratchets up the tension toward the story's inevitable conclusion.
Michael Morain, The Des Moines Register
Iolanthe Unfolds in London’s Swinging 60s in a Vibrant Production at Mock’s Crest
Stage director Kristine McIntyre and designer Larry Larsen do wonders with the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, offering one show every June at Mock’s Crest productions. The sparkling operettas are always worth the trip to the University of Portland’s beautiful campus, and the trek to see this year’s show, Iolanthe, is no exception. It’s the company’s 24th season, and definite proof that things improve with age. The vibrant, clever production is set in the early ’60s of Soho London, and the story nestles there quite splendidly. W.S. Gilbert would certainly smile. The plot deals with members of the House of Peers, stuffy grey flannel suited Englishmen with their briefcases and black umbrellas, who come lock horns with a group of fairies, here decked in go-go boots, mini-skirts, and the bright psychedelic colors of Carnaby Street. Colorful umbrellas are a great touch, and the girls use them as interesting props. The match of upper-class twits and comely enchantresses eventually proves that opposites attract as guys and gals alike do the twist in the final scene. Lo and behold, the twist actually works with Sullivan’s music.
Holly Johnson, Oregon Music News
Dead Man Walking Conquers Another City
In one of the most anticipated opening nights in the history of Madison Opera, the performance of Dead Man Walking Friday night capped what may go down as the finest overall season in the fifty-plus years of the company. Everything you’ve read or heard about the opera is true: It is not a polemic against the death penalty, it has stretches of almost unbearable intensity that are arguably without equal in the world of opera, the music is memorable, singable and compelling…and it transcends the art form as only true masterpieces can. In other words: It came…They sang…We were conquered.
Greg Hettmanberger, Madison Magazine
Madison Opera's Brilliant Dead Man Walking Finds Power in Pain
In the opera's disturbing opening scene, two giggling teenagers (played by University of Wisconsin-Madison undergrads) run into the dim lights of a parked car, having just gone skinny-dipping. In the shadows, it's hard to see exactly when the De Rocher brothers, silent, menacing and barely visible beyond the tip of a lit cigarette, close in on the pair… It is contrasts like these that make Dead Man Walking among the most galvanizing, emotionally wrenching works to play Overture Hall in the last few years… With powerful performances by the principals and supporting cast alike, aided by sensitive, balanced direction by Kristine McIntyre (A Masked Ball, 2012), the opera steers clear of sensationalizing a crime or simplifying a story… Save a few brief comic moments, Dead Man Walking is a devastating piece of theater… In a moderated talkback after the performance, Heggie praised the production's "visceral momentum," an apt descriptor for an opera that evokes such strong emotions.
Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times
Madison Opera's Dead Man Walking is a Landmark Achievement that Dramatizes a Nun's Relationship with a Death-Row Inmate
Madison Opera’s production of Jake Heggie’s much-admired opera Dead Man Walking is the apex of the 2013-14 season and a landmark in the company’s history of successful boldness… The opera is presented in a production brought to Madison from the Fort Worth Opera. Its set, stark and simple, uses constantly shifting sections of jail bars to convey the grim relentlessness of a Louisiana prison. This setting is exploited deftly by stage director Kristine McIntyre… Dead Man Walking is one of the epochal operas of our time, engaging us in a grave moral issue while also offering a shattering theatrical experience. It is amazing that Madison Opera has been able to bring together a production so consistently excellent. It is one that will long linger in the memories of the Madison audiences.
John W. Barker, The Daily Page
The Truth Will Set You Free
There are no words for art like this. None suffices. The English language is inadequate when tasked with depicting an experience of the kind to which Dead Man Walking belongs… If anything, the opera is more deeply human than anything in the canon I have yet seen or heard. The libretto is skillfully crafted, capturing every character in life-like depth. Its score is masterful, propulsive, colorful, and powerfully moving, with influences from Mozart, Wagner and George Gershwin apparent. Remarkably, for a composer’s first opera, it balances to the stage apparently without effort… The brilliant stage direction by Kristine McIntyre brings the whole production to life against the starkly effective scenery... The costumes, lighting and sound design are simple and successful… This is opera. This is art. This is human expression at its most direct, at its most powerful, at its most deeply touching. Go see Dead Man Walking. You will come away changed.
Mikko Utevsky, The Well-Tempered Ear
THEATER REVIEW: Elmer Gantry, Tulsa Opera
Elmer Gantry, the opera by Robert Aldrich and Herschel Garfein that Tulsa Opera is presenting this weekend at the Tulsa PAC, is likely to make fans of, and newcomers to, lyric theater quite happy — or at least shout a “Hallelujah” or two… Composer Aldrich and librettist Garfein have crafted a musically rich and varied work that tells a uniquely American story in a most entertaining — and often humorous — way that the cast and orchestra performs with a kind of joyous intensity… Director Kristine McIntyre stages the action so that it flows with cinematic ease amid the spare but evocative sets designed for Florentine Opera by Kris Stone. And Kostis Protopapas conducts the Tulsa Opera Orchestra in a stellar performance as full of color and drama as the production itself.
James D. Watts, Jr., Tulsa World
IN REVIEW: Peter Grimes, Des Moines Metro Opera
Des Moines Metro Opera's forty-first season found the company taking some provocative risks and considerably upping the artistic ante from previous years… Roger Honeywell’s extraordinary performance in the title role of Britten's Peter Grimes (seen June 30)… bodes to be a career-defining interpretation... The fifty plus- voice chorus was top notch, and when in Kristine Mclntyre's admirable staging the assemblage bled into the aisles, the effect was overwhelming; one really felt surrounded by an enraged, dangerous mob. Neely spirited the orchestra through those sea interludes beautifully. This Grimes would be a front-runner on any stage, anywhere… This was DMMO’s strongest season in memory.
Mark Thomas Ketterson, OPERA NEWS
THEATER REVIEW: Peter Grimes, Des Moines Metro Opera
The 1945 opera by Benjamin Britten is often cited as the best of the 20th century, and the new production shows why. From the get-go, director Kristine McIntyre and conductor David Neely’s talents work together to unspool the ambiguous story of a fisherman’s fight for acceptance among his neighbors, whose threats are as constant as the sea’s… The look of the show is stylish, with noir touches in Robin McGee’s ‘40s-era costumes, set designer Brumley’s cobblestones and Cubist buildings, and lighting designer Steele’s video-projected storms. The combined effect is unforgettable, even after the clouds part and Peter sails once again out to sea.
Michael Morain, The Des Moines Register
Don Giovanni Succeeds on Strength of Strong Cast, Stylish Concept
Kentucky Opera closed out its 2012-2013 season with a sold-out production of Don Giovanni that delivered on its promise of translating the classic tale to the shadowy, seductive atmosphere that marked the golden era of film noir. Given Director Kristine McIntyre's concept of the opera, Eric Allgeier (set) and Connie Yun (lighting) combined their crafts to create a design that was a character in itself. A city of dark alleys and long shadows offers ample opportunities for the dangerously charming Don Giovanni to prey upon women... The drama that follows brings together an array of people who have reason to take revenge on Giovanni, but this production emphasizes that it is Giovanni's own tortured conscience that finally brings about his destruction.
Selena Frye, louisville.com
IN REVIEW: Of Mice and Men, Utah Opera
Utah Opera closed its current season with Floyd's vivid adaptation (seen May 5) in a searing performance that was an artistic triumph for this company. Director Kristine McIntyre's canny ability to meld visual and musical elements seamlessly allowed Floyd's score and libretto full voice and clearly communicated the work's central theme — that personal relationship, however tenuous, is far superior to solitary existence... Minimalist set pieces, dominated by a tapered boardwalk stretching toward the horizon, were designed by Vicki Davis. Susan Memmott-Allred's Depression-era costumes and Nicholas Cavallaro's lighting contributed to one of most completely satisfying Utah Opera productions in memory.
Robert Coleman, OPERA NEWS
Utah Opera's Of Mice and Men is Gripping Theater
Utah Opera’s production of the Carlisle Floyd opera, which opened Saturday at the Capitol Theatre, is a gripping evening of theater. From the singers portraying the iconic George Milton and Lennie Small to the adorable shelter pup who plays Lennie’s ill-fated dog, every aspect of this staging is top-notch... Kristine McIntyre’s stage direction is another key ingredient in the success of this production. There is nary a wasted movement or gesture all night.
Catherine Reese Newton, The Salt Lake Tribune
A Little Old Work Fills a Big New Space
The company's first season in its new home began with Puccini's lavish Turandot. The production was intended to make it clear that grand opera can stand up to even the grandest architecture. But the company wanted to follow up with something more intimate, to show its range and prove that smaller works needn't vanish in the imposing center. The Lyric Opera has little to worry about on that front. In Kristine McIntyre's breezy production, which I saw at the final performance of its run on Sunday afternoon, Mozart's Cosi fan tutte never seemed dwarfed by its surroundings... The production has updated the action to a swank seaside resort during the Roaring Twenties: airy blue skies, boardwalk, period deck chairs and slinky beaded gowns. It was simple and effective, much like the theater's interior, with its straightforward lines and attractive blond wood.
Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times
Lyric Opera's Cosi fan tutte Mixes Hijinks, High C's
On the surface, the plot of Mozart's late opera Cosi fan tutte seems almost like a sitcom, yet as the new production by the Lyric Opera of Kansas City shows, there's no reason to let a little fun get in the way of some of the most elegant music this side of creation. The near-sellout audience Saturday night at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts did just that, enjoying a splendid evening of hijinks and high C's. I've always thought that Cosi was one of the more difficult operas to stage, but Kristine McIntyre's stylish direction made it seem easy... The first act seethed with clever staging, crisp gestures and comical twists, leaving the audience guessing what would happen next.
Timothy McDonald, The Kansas City Star
The Mikado Dismisses your Preconceived Notions
Forget every preconceived notion you have of Titipu, the Japanese setting for The Mikado, and dive into this one. The fresh, quirky, colorful version by Mock's Crest Productions at University of Portland spills forth a veritable piñata of visual ideas, thanks to a new concept by director Kristine McIntyre, with help from set designer Lawrence Larsen and costumer Darrin Pufall. Victorian England's been left behind in the dust: McIntyre instead gives us a peek at what might be the West's influence on Japan. It's a wild mix, with several bows to The Wizard of Oz, Walt Disney and the modern technology of cell phones that both sides of the planet know too well. The Japanese have a fondness for Van Gogh, and Larsen's set is steeped in the bright colors of the Post-Impressionists. Here, Titipu is a seaside town, with bubble tea and ice cream for sale, a modern sushi bar (where Katisha, played to perfection by Mock's Crest regular Alexis Hamilton, tosses down saki with the bartender as she croons "Alone, and yet alive") and a shop selling inflatable beach toys. Touches of Art Nouveau decorate the buildings, and when red streamers, hoops and confetti fill the town in the final scene, all that's missing are Chinese fireworks. East meets West, blending fantasy and familiarity.
Holly Johnson, The Oregonian
WCO Has a Ball with Cenerentola
The acting was so good and the directing so sophisticated that the absence of sets and costumes was never really missed in the Washington Concert Opera's semi-staged production of Rossini's La Cenerentola at Lisner Auditorium on Sunday... This reworking of the Cinderella story combines all the elements that Rossini delighted in and crafted so devastatingly and that this production projected so vividly -- humor and pathos, buffoonery and elegance, and reality clothed in fairy tale. It needs singers, seven of them, who can act and actors whose comfortable idiom is coloratura. It needs balance and a commitment to ensemble, and, most of all, it needs a sense of comic timing. All of this was there in abundance on Sunday, and, along with Walker and his forces, credit must go to stage director Kristine McIntyre.
Joan Reinthaler, The Washington Post
Washington Concert Opera's Cenerentola Sparkles
The Washington Concert Opera concluded its brief but always interesting 2009-2010 season last Sunday with a smashing, semi-staged version of Gioacchino Rossini’s classic La Cenerentola (Cinderella) at Lisner Auditorium... Nonetheless, things did turn out happily ever after in the end. And it was an inspired decision to have the singers act out their parts rather than read music from their music stands as is usually the case in concert opera. Clearly, all the singers were familiar with the roles. Freeing them to actually get into their roles—under the imaginative direction of Kristine McIntyre—really made this production pop.
Terry Ponick, The Washington Times
IN REVIEW: Un Giorno di Regno, Lyric Wolf Trap Opera
Witnessing a committed, dynamic performance of Un Giorno di Regno is the easiest way to cure the habit of dismissing this comic opera as inferior Verdi... Wolf Trap Opera did its best to erase the past with an entertaining production that, quite persuasively, advanced the action to 1950s Paris, neatly evoked by Erhard Rom's set (with a huge portrait of Verdi on one wall adding a wry link to the piece's origins) and Carol Bailey's chic costumes, not to mention a Vespa that spiced up the finale. The June 17 performance in the Barns of Wolf Trap found the young cast fully engaged, as much in the music as in the antics, directed with cleverness and unforced humor by Kristine McIntyre.
Tim Smith, OPERA NEWS
John Brown, Hero: Lyric's New Opera is Hit at Opening Performance
At several points during composer Kirke Mechem's 20-year struggle to put the story of John Brown on the opera stage, he must have despaired of its chances of ever becoming a reality. But it is very real, and Saturday's world premiere of John Brown by the Lyric Opera of Kansas City was the sort of magical success that composers and musicians dream of. With unabashedly lush solo and choral writing, a shimmering orchestral backdrop and a raw-nerved story of continued relevance, this opera is a natural almost from start to finish... Kristine McIntyre's stage direction was deft and natural.
Paul Horsley, The Kansas City Star
THEATER REVIEW: The Turn of the Screw, Lyric Opera of Kansas City
The strength of McIntyre’s direction is that it plays Britten at face value, leading us to think we know what’s happening but by the end making us wonder what the devil is going on. I will remember this Screw not just for its vocal marvels but because it brought me close enough to the author’s purposes that I was happily baffled by the whole thing, as I believe we are supposed to be.
Paul Horsley, The Kansas City Star
THEATER REVIEW: Flight, Pittsburgh Opera Center
The splendid set, designed for this theater by Carol Bailey, gives the audience a feeling of actually being inside a real airport terminal, where the story takes place... The ultimate effect, as staged by Kristine McIntyre with the strong musical direction of James Lowe, is that of, say, a well-oiled off-Broadway show... There's not a weak link in this production. It's by far the best thing the Opera Center has done: an evening of total theater not to be missed.
Robert Croan, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Opera Center Delivers Superb Production of Return of Ulysses
Intelligent and imaginative staging no less than wonderful musical performances make Pittsburgh Opera Center's current production of The Return of Ulysses a triumph of artistic recreation. Kristine McIntyre's staging successfully updates the story to a period following World War I, drawing upon insights into mythology by Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung - and into shell shock by English poets such as Wilfred Owen and the psychiatrist who treated them.
Mark Kanny, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
THEATER REVIEW: The Return of Ulysses, Pittsburgh Opera Center
It's a fine time to be part of the Pittsburgh Opera Center... the Pittsburgh Opera has poured more time, money and effort into its professional training program, evident in the outstanding production of The Return of Ulysses on Sunday evening... Kudos go to stage director Kristine McIntyre and set designer Carol Bailey for a clean telling of the story (with significant cuts) even while overlaying it with an additional reading of the horror of World War I. This was manifest in Edwardian dress and ghastly projections... and made for a compelling interpretation.
Andrew Druckenbrod, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette