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<<  -- 2 --  Maria Nockin    VOCALLY AND VISUALLY SPECTACULAR

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The monster Grendel, sung by bass Eric Owens, was in some ways more human than the people in the story. He was almost always on stage, telling his tale, philosophizing, throwing out punch lines and occasionally lapsing into the mindless violence for which he is best known. Owens sang this marathon role with great energy and distinctively colored tones, although there was often little orchestral support for his vocal line.

Denyce Graves as the Dragon. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard
Denyce Graves as the Dragon. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard

This opera has two major bass roles. The second is that of King Hrothgar and it contains lower notes than those customarily sung by operatic performers. Charles Robert Austin, a commanding personality on stage, sang the difficult tessitura with accuracy and seeming ease. He also got to drive a fascinating clockwork tractor.

Eric Owens as Grendel and Jay Hunter Morris as Unferth. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard
Eric Owens as Grendel and Jay Hunter Morris as Unferth. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard

Denyce Graves had only a cameo part as the dragon, but she was spectacular both vocally and visually as she ventured forth from the enormous creature's mouth. Her voice was joined by those of Maureen Francis, Hanan Alattar and Jessica Swink, the soprano trio who inhabited the monster's tail. Since this dragon advises the hoarding of gold, it seemed to be related to Fafner in Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle, as did several other characters in Grendel.

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Copyright © 18 June 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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