Ariadne auf Naxos

by  MICHAEL J. OPPERMAN Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos is an oddball opera, and requires a deft hand to stage. Understanding its conception helps provide some context for the compositional and constitutional strangeness. The opera was originally conceived as a thirty-minute divertissement intended to be performed at the end of a Molière adaptation. The opera ended…

Junie B. Jones The Musical

by  MICHAEL J. OPPERMAN “A little glitter can turn your whole day around,” according to Junie B. Jones. And so can a children’s musical this good. Artistic Director Sandy Boren-Barrett and Director Cody R. Braudt have staged a whimsical, joyful production of the (in)famous Junie B. Jones’ experiences in 1st grade. Stages Theatre Company was…

The Elixir of Love

by  MICHAEL J. OPPERMAN Act I opens on a piazza floating in a bucolic Italian countryside. As idyllic as a scene from a Sophia Loren movie. Field workers and townspeople move around the square.  We see our first glimpse of Nemorino (Leonardo Capalbo), the erstwhile hero of the story.  Expressive and charismatic, Capalbo wanders the…

Hansel and Gretel

by  MICHAEL J. OPPERMAN The Minnesota Opera’s production of Hansel and Gretel is a great introduction to opera for friends and family who are intimidated or reluctant to give the form a try. The story is familiar, the music is approachable (and lovely), and the staging is fantastic – in all definitions of the word. …

Crazyface

by  MICHAEL J. OPPERMAN “Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work.” Clive Barker Perhaps knowing that Barker is regular and orderly in life is a relief (or a consolation). After experiencing Crazyface, I’m imagining him in a rocking chair sipping tea as the sun rises,…

Preview: AXIS Dance Company on March 21

by  MICHAEL J. OPPERMAN On Friday, March 21, one of the world’s most innovate dance ensembles will be performing at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.  Under the artistic direction of Judith Smith, AXIS Dance Company “challenges the possibilities of movement.” Founded in 1987, they have paved the way for a powerful contemporary dance…

Macbeth

by  MICHAEL J. OPPERMAN Verdi was a bad boss. On the day of the final dress rehearsal of a performance of Macbeth, one of the principals complained that they had already run-through the Act I duet 150 times. “I would not say that if I were you, for within half an hour it will be…