Heres an opera recipe for Saturdays world premiere at Durangos Storyteller Theatre:
Take two lovers from A Midsummer Nights Dream and toss them onto the island of Shakespeares Tempest.
Borrow generous portions of Baroque music from Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau and other composers.
Whisk together, with the aid of contemporary writer Jeremy Sams, a lively libretto.
Add the color, pomp, and wherewithal of the Metropolitan Opera.
Cook for three hours and 35 minutes.
Serves about 100 locally, millions world wide.
This weeks The Met: Live in HD offering is sure to be a stunner. The company has done exactly as printed above. The Met has created a new work based on classic stories and retrofitted the libretto to a collection of existing operatic arias and ensembles. Its called a pastiche, and the practice is not new. Look at Snowdown for the lowdown version of a musical pastiche. Or look up some of the pasticcios popular in the European courts of the 18th century.
The Enchanted Island updates this musical revue form using familiar stories plus this and that from a variety of composers.
From the look of promotional photos and news of the opening Jan. 4 in New York, the Enchanted set has all the hallmarks of Baroque artificiality and excess. Painted backdrops, moving parts, and frou-frou costumes lead the way. With a starry cast, its sure to be a crowd pleaser, something you might go to if youre new to opera or an old, jaded opera lover.
Heres a plot summary: two lovers from Shakespeares Dream find themselves shipwrecked on an island thats a lot like Prosperos domain in The Tempest. Whos who in the cast may give you an idea of where the story goes from there.
Miranda and Ferdinand (Lisette Oropesa and Anthony Roth Costanzo) meet up with the islands ruler Prospero (counter tenor David Daniels) and his foe Sycoax (soprano Joyce Di Donato). Neptune (the inimitable Placido Domingo in his transformation as a baritone), Ariel (Danielle Niese), and Caliban (Luca Pisaroni) swirl around Prospero with varying degrees of irritation, mischief, or resentment.
The production has been designed by the team that created Satyagraha. About 50 of us saw a spectacular production of the Philip Glass opera about Gandhi on Nov. 19. I still cant pronounce the name of the opera, but who cares?
The new production of Satyagraha brimmed over with imaginative turns such as giant puppets, aerial entrances and exits, the illusion of thousands on a march, and in the final scene, the miraculous blending of two great 20th century pacifists, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
So I have high hopes for the same creative team, Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, to give us a memorable Enchanted Island.
The opera lasts three hours and 35 minutes with intermission. The theater was pretty cold at the last Live in HD performance, so come prepared.
If you love Baroque music, chances are The Enchanted Island will appeal to you. If you love Shakespeare, it will be fun to see what new twists braid two of the Bards plays together. If you dont know anything about opera, this production has just got to be a great introduction.
Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.