|Trixie La Fée, Ladybird Finch, and Harlow Wigglesworth at Duane Park|
Now what, you might ask, is your intrepid reviewer doing at a burlesque show. The answer is that we were listening to operatic arias, performed by some truly excellent singers. That they happen to be talented ecdysiasts as well is just icing on the operatic cake.
If one closed one's eyes, one would be experiencing a splendid sampling of arias at a recital; but if one did so he/she would be depriving him/herself of some entrancing eye candy as these ladies are experts in both areas. Moreover, one of them, Marcy Richardson, aka Operagaga, is an amazing aerialist who performed some wild contortions within a large steel ring, of which we failed to get a good photo.
We love to see unusual productions in interesting venues because they serve a somewhat younger audience and also introduce people who are not regular opera goers to an art form to which we are addicted. Let us hope that some of them get bitten by the bug.
Let us begin with the venue and the menu, which are all part of the experience. Duane Park is situated on The Bowery, just north of Houston Street, the entrance gives the feeling of entering a speakeasy during Prohibition. Once inside, one is greeted by Trent, who is an excellent host, making every attempt to get parties comfortably seated. One looks around at the opulent decor and is reassured that there is nothing "cheap" about this venue. All preconceived notions of "strip-joints" evaporate in this refined air.
The menu offers choices for everyone and we were astonished at how fine the food was. We enjoyed some unusual handcrafted cocktails and some delicious shrimp and grits that made us feel as if we were in Charleston or N'awlins. Our companion raved about the merguez. Kudos to Executive Chef Richard Overholt. Our server was attentive and didn't miss a beat.
And neither did accompanist Seth Weinstein who showed off les girls to good advantage. We would like to show off les girls as well and if you did not arrive at this website through a link on Facebook, we refer you to our FB page "Voce di Meche" because a picture is worth a thousand words. A word of warning-- it's not for the kiddies because we photographed a lot of tits and ass!
But we write about singing and isn't that what y'all want to hear about? Our Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening was the lovely Laura Murphy who assumed the character of Harlow Wigglesworth and introduced each artist with a wiggle and a wink and a chorus girl accent--a fine piece of acting.
The program opened with Kasey Cardin, aka Dixie De Light, who gave a special sparkle to "Je veux vivre", Juliet's waltz from the Gounod opera. The French was fine as was the phrasing and, yes, the undressing was fine too. Later on, Ms. Cardin gave a special not-so-innocent interpretation of "O, mio babbino caro" from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi with Italian as fine as the French.
Gounod made a further appearance in "Que fait-tu, blanche tourterelle", Stefano's aria in which he teases the Capulets, performed by mezzo-soprano Rachel O'Malley, aka Ladybird Finch, who did plenty of teasing herself. She showed her humorous side in "What a movie" from Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti.
Soprano Francesca Caviglia, aka Trixie La Feé, appeared in a Cleopatra costume, which she shed whilst performing "V'adoro pupille" from Händel's Giulio Cesare. Her baroque style was impeccable. She also did a fine job with "I'm a stranger here myself" from One Touch of Venus by Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash.
We were a little worried that Trixie would not perform with her feathered fans, an act we have seen before; we needn't have been concerned because she appeared later in the program with a dazzling display that took our breath away. Whilst Ms. O'Malley sang "L'invitation au voyage" by Henri Duparc, Ms. Caviglia gave a perfect illustration of the text "Luxe, calme, et volupté" that exceeded the Matisse painting and Baudelaire's poetry.
There is a male member of the troupe and his name is Brad Lassiter, aka Lance-a-lot. He gave a fine musically valid performance of "C'est moi" from Lerner and Loewe's Camelot, stripping down to some gilded skivvies, with some female assistance. His Belcore was even better, as he sang, "Come Paride vezzoso" from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore.
Marcy Richardson, aka Operagaga, gave a fine performance of the Jewel Song "Ah, je ris" from Gounod's Faust with a sparkling soprano and equally sparkling pasties. We found no fault in her fine French.
We know from witnessing countless master classes and our own voice lessons just how difficult it is to master an aria--the language, the breaths, the phrasing, the skips, the legato, the fioritura, etc. Now, just imagine accomplishing all that while shedding your clothes in an artistic manner! Now imagine doing that while performing difficult gymnastic maneuvers and you will get some idea of what we witnessed as Ms. Richardson sang "Lascia ch'io pianga" from Händel's Rinaldo! What a feat!
We hope you all know the rousing "Champagne Aria" sung by Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II. Now imagine it sung by the entire cast in their closing number, toasting the audience and vice versa. Now you know just how much fun we had last night at Duane Park.
Should you be tempted, there will be another show with different material on July 24th. We can guarantee your delight.
(c) meche kroop