By: H.M.S. Pen-afore!
Being my first time as a ‘ghost writer’ for this lovely little blog, I am to say, a tad bit nervous so bare with me! I had the pleasure of attending Minnesota Opera’s production of Richard Strauss’s Arabella for very low price of free! Here are a
Minnesota Opera’s Arabella aims to capture the internal and external tug of war between choosing to marry to for love versus for money. The grandeur of the Ordway Theatre seemed the perfect venue for the upper class Viennese hotel in which our protagonist Arabella’s story is told. Director Tim Albery beautifully and subtly portrays Arabella’s (played by Jacquelyn Wagner) struggle to surrender to her parents want and need to have her marry for money or lend herself to the unannounced house guest and nephew of her father, Mandryka (played by Craig Irvin).few of my humble opinionated thoughts!
Although Jacquelyn Wagner had moments where she seemed to lose support through Strauss’s difficult and extended vocal lines, she redeems herself with her beautiful pianissimo that had the audience in complete amazement. Wagner’s comedic counter-part, her “brother” Zdenka, played by Elizabeth Futral, compliments each other greatly both vocally and dramatically. The mysterious foreigner Mandryka who yearns for Arabella’s heart is portrayed beautifully and passionately by Craig Irvin. Sitting way up in the balcony, I could feel his anticipation, his disappointment, his joy, and his anger. Irvin had, by far, the best-rounded performance of the night. His performance came from a place of absolute truth and had me cheering him on the entire time. I, of course, cannot end this post without mentioning Brian Jagde’s portrayal of Matteo. Jagde is a power-house of a tenor whose pain in being rejected by Arabella lends itself perfectly to his robust and impressively present sound. He is a force to be reckoned with in this production.
Jagde’s performance is impressive, without question, but the quieter moments of this production are what struck me as the most impressive. When you think of a stereotypical opera, you think huge choruses with singers blasting the roof and doors off of the venue. I think there is something to be applauded and encouraged from Tim Albery’s approach at showing smaller, more detailed, and ultimately, more truthful moments between each character that capture our attention as an audience and keeps us engaged both aurally and visually. Overall, I was very impressed with the quality of the production and I recommend checking out the last few performances while you still can!