<< -- 2 -- Kelly Ferjutz ETERNAL OPTIMISM
Baritone Sanford Sylvan -- on stage for the entire forty five minute work -- is The Survivor: husband and father, grieving for his lost wife and older daughter. He is unable to share his burden with his younger daughter and surviving child (Sarah Renea Rucker). Mezzo-soprano Fenlon Lamb is The Wife, while petite soprano Megan Tillmann is The Lost Child. Each of the soloists is accompanied, to great advantage, by the instrument used in the original song cycle. The double bass of Maximilian Dimoff, of the Cleveland Orchestra, sang in near-duet fashion along with Mr Sylvan, lending his songs great gravity. At the beginning, Mr Sylvan was not given much to do other than gaze with longing at his ghostly wife and child, who appeared briefly to sing, and then disappeared again. He was convincing, nonetheless.
All of Ms Lamb's songs had piano accompaniment, wonderfully provided by Judith Ryder, Director of Cleveland Opera on Tour and Music Director for this production. These songs had a wider range, such as the rather flirty Wild Nights with text by Emily Dickinson and reflective Echo set to a poem by Christina Rossetti, among others.
Ms Tillman was by turns joyful or sad in the way of children, with melodious saxophone accompaniment played by Paul Cohen. Yet, these poems were by far the most optimistic of them all. It was only when this child was taken away by two Nazi soldiers that the living child awoke from a nightmare, and was then consoled by her father in a touching scene.
Megan Tillmann (The Child) in the Cleveland Opera production of 'Come to Me in Dreams' by Lori Laitman and David Bamberger. Opening night, 9 June 2004, Ohio Theater, Playhouse Square. Photo © Roger Mastroianni
In a lovely coda to the piece, Ms Laitman composed new music for all three instruments behind Ms Lamb, who sang the final song from which the title for the new work was drawn. 'Come to me in dreams ...'
There was no credit given for costume design, but they were entirely appropriate for the time portrayed -- the 1950s. The set was rather minimal, but greatly enhanced by the lighting of Izzy Einsidler, who also designed the lighting for The Diary of Anne Frank. The sometimes erratic projected titles worked erratically throughout the evening.
Copyright © 12 June 2004
Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA