18 July 2010

Summer Festival Time and the Livin' is Easy


Doug Nagel and friends provided late Sunday afternoon's entertainment with two delightful one-act operas. Early Sunday afternoon the Scarlets were playing baseball at Dehler Park, though they seemed a little sleepy for the first four innings.

Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti, set in the 1950s we all of a certain age remember. Fairly jazzy instrumental voices (keyboard, drums and clarinet) mix with an also jazzy American suburban East Coast unhappy husband and wife who show some nice vocal chops while lamenting their situations, backed up by a jazzy Greek chorus of three that were very entertaining, musically and elsewise, reminding us of what might have been. The story isn't much, sort of Seinfeldian, but the music is very nice, reminding us of Copland and West Side Story. The singers fit well with the characters and the venue.

William Mouat and Michelle Berger are Sam and Dinah and the chorus is Julius Head, Janie Rife, and Nate Liptac. They did this at the Babcock Theatre Saturday night and then again at United Methodist Church on Shiloh Sunday afternoon, both fairly intimate and well-suited settings for what turn out to be fairly low-key stories told operatically.

Gian Carlo Menotti's one-act opera, The Telephone, is even more Seinfeldian than Tahiti and just as funny as Elaine and George doing their thing. You know this takes place in the 40s or earlier as the baritone has to catch a train. Mouat as Ben and Jacquelyn Marie Weitz as Lucy were excellent. The female voices, Berger and Weitz, were perfect for the small church setting on Sunday afternoon, Mouat's was a little too big in places, though it suited his masculine character in both of the operas.

We have a lot of operatic talent here in Billings and elsewhere gathered together by Doug Nagel. Don't forget The Merry Widow, 25-26 September. Both Head and Rife will be singing in that production. And of course, Puccini's Tosca will be here 30 April and 1 May next year. Mouat will be Sacristan and Doug Nagel will be singing the part of Baron Scarpia. These should be very good.

Monday, 19 July 2010 UPDATE: The Scarlets did come alive soon after we left with a 10 run outburst in the 6th inning according to this morning's Gazette. Final score 14-10 Billings Scarlets over Helena Senators.

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