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The Little Match Girl Passion at SF Lyric Opera

Little-match-girl-passion-sf-lyric-opera* Notes *
San Francisco Lyric Opera returned after a hiatus of more than two years with a performance of David Lang's The Little Match Girl Passion at ODC Theater last night. The new incarnation of this ensemble is sleek and fresh. Lang's piece is scored for four voices and half a dozen percussive instruments, but it is the singers that are meant to play the drums or bells. A conductor is necessary in this case, and Barnaby Palmer kept the music mostly together. The singers were lightly amplified and sounded ethereal. They did well with the simple percussion, but it did not seem like second nature to them to be playing and singing.

It is always a pleasure to hear Eugene Brancoveanu, though his part was not extensive in this piece. Tenor Eric Maggay Tuan's voice was pretty and clear. Celeste Winant (alto) had the most prominent vocal role, and sang with beauty. Soprano Ann Moss sang gracefully and blended nicely with Winant.

The production, designed by Frédéric Boulay (of Ensemble Parallèle) and directed by E.E. "Chip" Grant IV (of Urban Opera), is unflinching and effective. It was striking how unlike this was from SF Lyric Opera's cute, slightly musty fare in years past. The black and white video projections interspersed with purple lighting were tasteful. Anastazia Louise's choreography was eerie, enhanced by her white painted face and limbs, and her white, ragged costume. Her complete commitment to every movement was evident.

* Tattling *
The audience was quiet, only a few whispers were heard near the beginning of the piece. Despite being threatened to be "hunted down like a bird dog" if one's cellular phone rang, one electronic tone was heard as the singers sang "God have mercy."