Opera-Theater-Dance Review: Heartbeat Opera’s ‘Messy Messiah’

There’s nothing messy messy messiah, the ironic review of the opera festivals of heartbeat opera. Everything about this tumultuous spectacle is meticulously crafted and presented with first-rate skill: the glorious song and dance; Wonderful musical arrangements of winter-themed opera arias by Daniel Schlosberg, selections from Handel Messiah, and visits by Vivaldi and Tchaikovsky; and other bits of musical culture and chaos.

For obvious reasons, the troupe was unable to stage its annual extravaganza last year. He came back with a sweet vengeance.

The show begins with a brilliantly artful pastiche of an Overture. As in other productions, Heartbeat Opera’s modus operandi is to re-stage classics in small ensemble formats with new dramatic interpretations. messy messiah postulates an accomplished tenor (a fabulous Elliott Page) annoyed at the thought of going through the motions of another Handel Christmas performance Messiah. His desire for something new comes to fruition, presumably from his own subconscious. His first flowering is his own (already breathtaking) rendition of “Comfort Ye” and “Every Valley” from this over-the-top oratorio. The rest of the cast arrive one by one, singing various tunes while dressed in Fabian Aguilar’s fancifully and beautifully crafted costumes.

The visual richness of the show goes far beyond the costumes. Eamon Foley contributes inspired choreography for Jourdan Epstein, who dances traditional ballet and more to the music of the Nutcracker; performs a breathtaking number that transforms a fiddler on the roof classic on his head; and plays the central role in a mini-drama that riffs on the COVID-19 pandemic with welcome hilarity.

Photo credit: Russ Rowland

The flawless show never stops. One of the highlights is Handel’s “The Trumpet Shall Sound,” featuring the smooth, woodsy vocals of bass John Taylor Ward and the silvery solo work of trumpeter Evan Honse. Ward is also physically and vocally compelling in Purcell’s “The Cold Song” aria. king arthur. Mezzo-soprano Alissa Anderson pierces through in her solos, including Samuel Barber’s haunting “Must the Winter Come So Soon” vanessa. Soprano Samaria Alicea is a coloratura delight in Johann Strauss’ sparkling ‘Look at How I Look’. Die Fledermaus and his other turns, while tenor Page regains the lead in a surprise play from a selection I will not disclose. Clever arrangements also include subtle backing vocals.

The group is as superb as the singers, in everything from Handel’s triumphant harmonies to Schlosberg’s mesmerizing arrangements of Tchaikovsky’s dances. A passage from “Winter” by Vivaldi Four Seasons playful races in 7/8 time. But the intricacies of the arranger’s work (Schlosberg also plays piano and harpsichord) are too numerous to mention; it’s no exaggeration to say that he is the voice of Heartbeat Opera as much as its talented singers.

As we navigate our second consecutive holiday season fearing a deadly disease and wary of our countrymen, a burst of dazzle like this is just what it takes to spark a glimmer of optimism. If such talent and such a creative spirit can flourish in a restrained and pessimistic air of the times, there is still hope for us.

A Heartbeat Opera livestream messy messiah is available online until Sunday, December 19. Their Fidelio is scheduled for February 2022, performances in New York, California and Arizona, followed by multimedia When in New York in April.

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