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Erin Baiano

Let ‘Em Eat Cake

November 29, 2019

Having had a success with Of Thee I Sing in 2017, MasterVoices had chosen to stage the sequel with an equally starry cast made up of most of the singers from the previous show in the same roles. With a chorus of 125 voices in this most choral of musicals and nine stars, "Let ’Em Eat Cake" was gloriously sung. The orchestra of St. Luke’s under the baton of artistic director Ted Sperling gave the complex score a vigorous reading, suggesting that it is more than just a musical. While the story is quite silly (the White House gets painted blue, among other things), it is also quite dark predicting a fascist takeover of the American presidency - which may explain its quick failure in its own time. Topical in 1933, many of the topics and issues are currently in the headlines again as Washington deals with an imperial White House. The musical also offered a great many unfamiliar Gershwin songs aside from its one hit “Mine,” and familiar and unfamiliar reprises from "Of Thee I Sing" like “Wintergreen for President.” [more]

Babes in Toyland (MasterVoices)

May 1, 2017

Victor Herbert’s 1903 operetta "Babes in Toyland" was presented by MasterVoices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale), in a splendid concert production, to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Music director and artistic director, Ted Sperling superbly conducted the dynamic Orchestra of St. Luke's, and the terrific MasterVoices choral group, that appeared onstage with them. [more]

Doug Varone and Dancers: Spring 2017 Season

April 2, 2017

Varone employs movements loosely flung out from the body’s core; sudden, inexplicable pauses; (painful looking) drops to the floor (usually onto a knee!); contrasting chaotic activities with stillness, high with low and slow with fast. There is a sense—clearly mistaken—that the choreography is improvised which makes for unfocused and nervous stage pictures. The fact that his dancers, a diverse bunch, wear his movement style like a second skin adds an excitement to his ballets. They seem born to his particular style and give it an offhanded grace, looking more like people moving rather than dancers. [more]

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November 14, 2016

Gordon created the role of Gertrude Stein with mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe in mind. Blythe’s monumental presence, thanks to a towering, charismatic, forceful voice, is meant to arrest and command attention. Blythe captures Stein’s complicated personality – her genius, her stalwartness, her humor and her occasional, brutal judgments about the artistic quality of her bon mots. [more]

Dido and Aeneas

May 7, 2016

Staged by director/choreographer Doug Varone, "Dido and Aeneas" was amusingly presented in modern dress with Varone’s dancers playing the ensemble in both operas and pantomiming unseen props and scenery. As the original Purcell music to the surviving Nahum Tate 1689 prologue has been lost, LaChiusa has created a witty new one entitled" The Daughters of Necessity: A Prologue," and lasting 15 minutes. After the Chorus (men in bleachers on stage left, women on stage right) welcomed us, they recounted the myth of the Fates: Nono (Sarah Mesko) who spins the thread of life, Decima (Anna Christy) measures it, and Morta (Clark) snips the thread with her scissors. [more]

The Collegiate Chorale: The Road of Promise

May 30, 2015

On May 6 and May 7, 2015 at Carnegie Hall, presenting a concert version of Franz Werfel and Kurt Weill's 1937 The Road of Promise, (Der Weg der Verheissung), The Collegiate Chorale conducted and directed by Ted Sperling undertook a near-daring project … and failed. The performance was uneven at best. The work was more interesting for its problems than its ultimate beauty or success. [more]