* Notes *
Appomattox had its world premiere last Friday. I must confess I do not enjoy contemporary music, in fact, I am not overfond of many operas after Fidelio. This is ridiculous, given that this encompasses Verdi, Wagner, and Puccini. Setting that aside, I found Appomattox rather less challenging than Doctor Atomic, Le Grand Macabre, or Saint François d'Assise. I even got the chorus of Jimmie Lee stuck in my head after the final dress rehearsal, and noted that this was the only part that garnered applause during the music.
As for singing, I thought it was something of a shame that all the lead female roles were filled with Adler Fellows. It is not that they are not good or have poor voices, but they do lack experience. Particularly with Julia Dent Grant, the role is prominent and may have been better with someone with more control of her voice. Rhoslyn Jones, who sings this role, has a big voice with lots of vibrato. Her voice is pleasing in her middle range. I remember her quite clearly as Frasquita in Carmen last season, so she is, at least, consistent and distinct. On the other hand, it was difficult to tell that is was Elza van den Heever in the role of Mary Custis Lee, the role did not show off how pretty her voice can be. Her Southern accent was not as prominent as it could have been, at times she dropped it. Ji Young Yang's accent as Julia Agnes Lee was certainly not Southern, her alveolar approximant /ɹ/,had a certain lateral quality. Yang's voice is otherwise bright and very pretty. Heidi Melton sang well as Mary Todd Lincoln, though her voice is a bit harsh in the higher range too. Her acting was strong. Kendall Gladen was the only mezzo, as Elizabeth Keckley, and she sounded lovely, though she was quieter than Melton, with whom she sang.
Dwayne Croft was excellent as Robert E. Lee, his voice is sweet and he carried himself in a suitably dignified manner. There were a couple of times that his voice was overwhelmed but the orchestra, but I suspect this is partially because I was in orchestra standing room, where quieter voices sometimes get lost. Andrew Shore was slightly less appealing as Ulysses S. Grant, but his American accent was clear and he was always audible. He sang a duet with Julia Dent Grant in Act I Scene 3 that was particularly moving. For the other male roles, tenor and Adler Noah Stewart stood out as T. Morris Chester, his acting was stirring and his voice carried well.
* Tattling *
Sara Jobin did not seem comfortable giving the opera talk, she looked at her watch many times. The conductor did sing parts of the opera, since there were no recordings for her to play, and that was absolutely charming. The orchestra and boxes looked full, though I heard the attendance up in the balcony was sparser. There was a little whispering, but for the most part everyone was respectful and quiet. The work received a standing ovation.