* Notes *
Having missed Urban Opera's Dido and Aeneas last year, the Opera Tattler made a concerted effort to attend their sophomore production, which opened yesterday afternoon. The work at hand, entitled The Witch of Endor, is a pastiche that includes a poem by Rudyard Kipling, bit and pieces of music from Henry Purcell, a passage from the Bible, and even a drum circle. Though not unsuccessful, this inventive spectacle was all rather strange taken together. Chip Grant and his company made the most of San Francisco's Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, and the effect was intimate and absorbing. The costumes of the two female soloists, designed by Anastazia Louise, were striking. The use of film was artful, but projectors were distractingly loud.
As far as music, the rather exposed 6 members of the Urban Opera Orchestra produced a great deal of sound. The playing was not entirely clean and there were challenges staying exactly together with the singers, but one would imagine much rehearsal time in the space would be required to get this just right. Bass-baritone John Minagro was a commanding Samuel, and soprano Lindsey McLennan had a pure, pretty tone as the Goddess of Dreams. Colby Roberts (Saul) had a certain fragility in contrast to the chorus during "Hear My Prayer, O Lord," sounding more robust in "In Guilty Night." In the title role, Shawnette Sulker (pictured above, photograph by Michael Youens) gleamed. Her bird-like sound was quite pleasing.
The audience was mostly quiet, no electronic noise was noted and the talking was minimal. The performance lasted well under the listed run time of 1 hour and 5 minutes, thus Herr Feldheim and I were able to get over to the airport to pick up a pernicious Belgian without much trouble before heading over to the symphony.