* Notes *
West Edge Opera performed Vanessa (Marie Plette as Vanessa and Nikola Printz as Erika pictured left, photograph by Jeremy Knight) last weekend on Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Thrust Stage. The space is quite intimate and this gave the performances a special sort of immediacy. Musically, this was gratifying, but seeing the safety pins or rips in ill-fitting costumes was less welcome.
The production was fairly simple given that the singers shared the stage with the orchestra. The latter sounded quite bold under the direction of Maestro Jonathan Khuner. The chorus, Chora Nova, sounded lovely.
Most of the singing was good. Philip Skinner is an excellent performer, and his amusing mannerisms and warmth worked well for the Doctor. Malin Fritz (Baroness) has wonderful facial expressions. Nikola Printz sang a convincing Erika. Her dresses were most awkward and one wished she had covered the tattoo on her inner left arm. Likewise, Jonathan Boyd (Anatol) should have taken off his wedding band for Sunday's performance. Boyd has a bright sound, and only seemed strained on two or three occasions. Marie Plette sang the title role with a certain fierceness yet vulnerability. Her voice is icy.
* Tattling *
Because West Edge Opera can no longer afford the space at El Cerrito High School, I felt that I should get a VIP seat to express my support of the company. Unfortunately, because of certain inconsiderate people and the open seating policy, I had to move two times. Perhaps because I appear small, large people often choose to sit next to me. This is fine if I am not compelled to compress myself in order not to be in contact with them. Both people in question happily had their elbows in my ribs so that I was intimidated out of my seat twice.