May 16, 2011 12:44:28 AM EDT
All the sopranos were beautiful, even the male soprano—though he was grayer than the blonds and brunettes. Well, beauty is still the currency. But besides, he had an exquisite falsetto and though less used, a nice tenor. His name was Eric Brenner. And he wasn’t the only male soprano of the evening. But, to what end? VOX Contemporary Opera Lab didn’t tell me the answer to that. The opera excerpted was “Blood Rose” by Hannah Lash, a dialogue between Beauty and the Beast. The NY City Opera Orchestra at Le Poisson Rouge was a string quartet plus some stuff, and they swung! That was number two of the evening. What of the final opera excerpted, “Three Weeks” by Yoav Gal (Haifa, Brooklyn), in Hebrew and Latin, about the destruction of the Second Temple. I have no idea why a composer would write for an American audience in Latin and Hebrew, with no subtitles and only a garbled, but friendly explanation of the plot by the composer beforehand: A distancing device that worked like an unwanted charm. The small orchestra made some very beautiful sounds: three (usually) muted trombones, contrabass, piano and some sampled string-like timbres. The audience was multi-generational, cool, and eager. The bar flowed, the noisy fans white-noised. I couldn’t help this thought: while Stephen Sondheim writes real operas that touch, move, and athletically cover the waterfront, here at VOX we are constantly reminded that opera is high art, ART, opera tradition, vocal posturing from perfectly trained, excellent musicians. To what end? I wish I knew. Still, I wasn’t bored. And where do they get their ideas, their plots, these composers and librettists? The most commissioned librettist of series, Royce Vavrek told the audience: “from Wikipedia! ” Maybe I’ll boot that up later tonight. Thumbnail review.