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November 19, 2011

Peabody Opera Theatre delivers colorful 'Rake's Progress' at the Lyric

Forgive the abbreviated report (ever the slothful one, I do try to take a day off every now and then), but I wanted to get a little something on the record about Peabody Opera Theater.

The company made its first venture into the Lyric Opera House Friday night with a production of Stravinksy's "The Rake's Progress" that gets a repeat Sunday afternoon.

Catch it if you can -- this work will not be back around soon. (This is quite the week for rarities in Baltimore; the BSO just presented an Honegger oratorio for the first time.)

In brief, the Peabody staging by Garnett Bruce (director) and Luke Hegel-Cantarella (set) provides a colorful, often clever framework for this fable about a young man's descent into ruin and madness.

The orchestra, dynamically led by Hajime Teri Murai, revels in the neo-classical piquancy of Stravinsky's ingenious score. It's great to hear the musicians in the resonant acoustics of the Lyric. The strings, in particular, sounded terrific.

And the young cast ...

reveals considerable flair for the assignment.

Peter Scott Drackley is a bit short on tonal heft and nuance, but his performance in the title role is always musically attentive.

Kisma Jordan steals the show, vocally, as Anne Trulove with her truly lovely soprano. She sounds wonderful in the house, the tone ripe and well-supported, the phrasing lively, the diction superb. I can't prove any great powers of prognostication, but I sure do feel there's a good chance we could all be hearing more from this singer in time.

Peter Tomaszewski uses his vocal resources effectively as the devilish Nick Shadow and brings a nice theatrical flair to the role. Kristina Lewis has a good romp as the curiously bearded Baba the Turk; her singing, especially in the low register, has considerable lushness.

The cast is nicely rounded off by Alexander Rosen (Trulove) and Diana Cantrelle (Mother Goose). Particularly vibrant work comes from David Diehl as Sellem; he matches Jordan for precise articulation of the English text (surtitles are used in the production, just in case).

The chorus is the other big star, producing a hearty, balanced tone; the choristers also jump unabashedly into the action part of the assignment, starting off in their underwear for the bustling brothel scene.


Posted by Tim Smith at 11:15 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Opera, Peabody Institute

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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