* Notes *
Nico Muhly's Dark Sisters (Act I pictured left, photograph by Richard Termine) had a second performance at Opera Company of Philadelphia this afternoon. The opera, a co-production with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group, premiered in New York last November with the same cast.
Neal Goren also conducts the Philadelphia performances, and the small orchestra sounds together and supportive. The opera deals with a polygamist family in the Southwest whose children have been taken by Child Protective Services. Because the cast is made up of six females (five wives and one daughter) and only one male (who plays both husband and television personality), the piece is dominated by high voices. Sometimes the music exactly captured the gallinaceous cackling that tends to emerge from women conversing in a group.
Kevin Burdette distinguishes his two roles with skill. His voice is occasionally gravelly and lacked warmth, which seems right for this opera. Kristina Bachrach (Lucinda) sounds youthful. Jennifer Zetlan is convincing as the hypocritical, cruel favorite wife Zina. Margaret Lattimore (Presendia), Jennifer Check (Almera), and Eve Gigliotti (Ruth) all blend nicely. Gigliotti has the darkest voice of the cast. Caitlin Lynch makes for a believable Eliza. Her voice is pretty and bright.
The production, directed by Rebecca Taichman, is fairly straightforward. The set, from Mark Grimmer and Leo Warner, makes for smooth transitions, being rather simple and enhanced by lighting and video projections. Miranda Hoffman's costumes look suitable for followers of the FLDS Church.
* Tattling *
There was some eating and talking from the last row of the Perelman Theater. A latecomer seated himself in the middle of that same row near the beginning of Act I, irritating the woman on the aisle.
My companion did not appreciate this opera at all, and only perked up when Eliza sang to the Angel Moroni.