Just look what happens when you put a best-selling novel into the hands of two small creative opera companies! The novel is Stephanie Cowell's Marrying Mozart and the two opera companies are Dicapo Opera Theatre and Opera Moderne, both renowned for their ambitious and risk-taking productions. The result is a musical entertainment which Opera Moderne's Rebecca Greenstein calls a singspiel, Dicapo Opera's Michael Capasso calls "a play with music", and which we call plain unadulterated fun.
Should you be fortunate enough to secure tickets for the three remaining productions you will enjoy wondering how much of the tale is true and how much is fiction which, as we all know, is often truer than the "truth". Ms. Cowell's story relates half a dozen years in the life of the young Mozart and describes his involvement with the Weber girls, one of whom he ultimately weds. But oh the twists and turns before the decision is made!
Brought to the home by Weber père (Greg Horton), Herr Mozart (Ian Harkins) confronts four daughters whom Frau Weber (Roxann Kraemer) would like to marry off to wealthy men. Josepha, the eldest, portrayed by Lauren Hoffmeier, is crazy about her father, hates her mother and has a rather shocking fact to reveal which we will not spoil for you. Aloysia Weber, portrayed by soprano Adrian Lee, is the self-centered one with whom Mozart has an attenuated romance until she decides she is tired of waiting for him and has a scandalous affair with another man while pursuing her singing career. She does her own singing in the play and it's some fine singing she does.
The youngest girl Sophie (Christina Faicco) is the sweetest one and we watch her evolve from child to young woman. The third daughter whom Mozart eventually marries is Constanze, called Stanzi (Christian Sineath) who is rather insecure, living as she does in the shadow of the two elder sisters who delight their father and embarrass their mother by singing in public. Like the mother and Aloysia, she too indulges in some scandalous behavior, far more scandalous than one would expect in the 18th c.
We get to hear lots of Mozart's music in the course of the drama. Sopranos Julia Lima and Raquel Suarez along with tenors Anthony Webb and Marques Hollie made some beautiful music together in excerpts from Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Ms. Hoffmeier gave a moving performance of the "Agnus Dei" from Mozart's Coronation Mass, just to name a few of the delightful musical interpolations.
The novel was adapted for the stage by Mr. Capasso himself. Musical direction was by Pacien Mazzagatti who didn't sound at all like a killer of cats (if you don't understand Italian, ask to have that explained). The effective set was by John Farrell and lighting by Susan Roth. The extravagant 18th c. costumes were by Emily Parman and Ms. Greenstein herself was responsible for the lavish hair and make-up design.
We leave it up to you to find a phrase to describe this event to your own satisfaction. We are happy to abandon categorization.
(c) meche kroop