August 3, 2011
Reviewed by Paula Citron
Music by Luigi Cherubini
Conducted by Daniele Rustioni
Starring Alexandra Deshorties, Jeffrey Gwaltney, David Pittsinger and Jessica Stavros
Alice Busch Opera Theatre
Jul. 8 to Aug. 16, 2011
Glimmerglass Festival is mounting Medea, a rare 1787 opera by Luigi Cherubini.
The production contains wonderful singing, including a stunning performance by Canadian soprano Alexandra Deshorties in the title role. Italian conductor Daniele Rustioni drives the music with fierce energy. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that this Medea is a dud in terms of theatrical values, courtesy of two incompetent Englishmen. Director Michael Barker-Caven manages to miss every dramatic moment in the score, while Joe Vanek’s incomprehensible set looks like a storage locker in ancient Egypt. His period-fusion costumes are just plain ugly.
Even though the cast is directionless, talent does show through. Deshorties has a hint of Maria Callas in her voice, with her woody lower and middle registers and thrilling top. She is an electrifying singer. Why is she not performing in Canada?
Deshorties leads a strong cast that can sing, but look like wooden sticks on the stage.
Glimmerglasss Festival continues in Cooperstown, New York until Aug. 23.