Monday, August 29, 2011

I Hate Comic Opera. Sometimes.

As an actor, I learned comedy through improv theatre, but fell in love with opera for the epic, the heroic, the transcendent. And I've seen a lot of comic opera that is just not, well...funny.

But I just spent three months submerged in the best Italian buffa ever written. If I've learned anything, it's that even comic opera, even with all its iron-clad notes, timing, and traditional schtick, must have an absolutely ridiculous improvisation to it: the actors have to feel like asking,

"Are people actually watching us have this much fun?" 

and the audience has to feel like asking,

"Am I allowed to have this much fun?" 

Otherwise if it is practiced and cute -- if it only qualifies as 'charming' -- we're only imitating what comedy in the theatre is actually supposed to be.

And the difference between a good joke and a bad shtick is that a joke has to come from something the character would actually do, even in their own absurd logic. Schtick uses a logic outside of the characters - it's something superimposed onto them.

I learned this from a fart joke in Pasquale.  At least a fart is good for something.

This is Glenn Seven Allen, being very funny in a Barber directed by Benjamin Wayne Smith, who is also very funny. Credit to Wildeye Photography, whom I hope got some good laughs.

Sir Falstaff, Reviewed and Relished

Here are the best quotes from the four reviews of Falstaff!

"campy, raucous, sleazy, self-mocking, groovy, tacky, immoderate, compatible with beer and ice cream...All of these adjectives were applicable in the best possible way..."
"Dongkyu Oh [revealed] Falstaff’s true nature -- not merely a clown but an unapologetic embodiment of social vice."
"...the real scene-stealer...was Desiree Maira as Mistress Quickly, sporting impressively evocative facial expressions..." 
"Energy was abundant...Duke justly deserves the dual credits of director and choreographer. Cleverness of movement pervaded...from ostentatious disco to a simple turn of hand or head."
- Boston Music Intelligencer - Second cast opening review 


Now then a different person from the same journal saw a completely different cast but said a lot of the same things:
"...fluid, well-timed"
"...Brooke Larimer as Mistress Quickly was the quintessential contralto-soubrette, Italian-American sexpot...the most convincing physical realization of character...
"solid and entertaining"
- Boston Music Intelligencer - Opening night review 

"Delightful...spirited...funny"
- Boston Pheonix - review   

"...like something Diane Paulus would do..."
"...some of the best 'Shakespearean' acting I've seen all year."
- The Hub Review - review

Bravi tutti!

The wicked wives of Windsor. Photo by J.J. Bates.