* Notes *
Pocket Opera's 30th season opened yesterday with Friedrich von Flotow's Martha. This company presents opera in English translation with a narrator, a small cast, and a refreshing unpretentiousness. Donald Pippin, the founder and artistic director of Pocket Opera, does all the translations, narrations, and plays piano accompaniment. For Martha, he lead the 8 others in the ensemble of strings and woodwinds.
There were only 13 singers, all of whom were competent. As the Florence Gould Theater is rather small, with only 316 seats, volume was not an issue. Marcelle Dronkers wasn't terribly impressive in the title role, but she did have her moments. Tenor Brian Thorsett sang Lionel sweetly, though his diction could be improved. His voice is lovely, but he doesn't seem grounded in his body somehow. Julia Ulehla made a pretty Nancy, and her voice was nice despite some of her unclear arpeggios.
Perhaps the weakest part of the production was Willa Anderson's costuming, especially in the very first scene. The dresses the ladies wore looked like random prom gowns from the 1980's. Also, the hairstyling could have been improved. Dronkers' bangs and side-ponytail were not becoming to the role.
* Tattling *
The photographer's camera was somewhat loud as he took pictures, but this was nothing compared to the cellular phone that rang at least 10 times during Act IV.