Music and Vision homepage Jenna Orkin: Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death - From the heights of greatness (the Juilliard School; musicians Rosalyn Tureck and Nadia Boulanger) via way-ward paths to the depths of wickedness these reminiscences will entertain and enlighten.

 

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Another character whose appearance seemed Ring-related was Unferth, the would-be hero played to the hilt by Jay Hunter Morris. Blonde and muscular, he looked like he could defeat the monster but his character lacked adequate courage and ran away when a laughing Grendel pelted him with fruit. Unferth may not be Siegfried, but Morris, who sang Eric in Arizona Opera's The Flying Dutchman, is a fine tenor who is quite capable of singing Wagner as well as Goldenthal.

Laura Claycomb as Queen Wealtheow. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard
Laura Claycomb as Queen Wealtheow. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard

As The Shaper, a troubadour who put a pro-human, pro-mechanization slant on the news, Richard Croft's lines were more lyrical than most. With its honeyed sound, his light voice was an effective contrast to the bass tones of Grendel and the King. Appearing only in Act II, Laura Claycomb as Queen Wealtheow flooded the hall with her radiant beauty and exquisite high notes. Beowulf was portrayed by dancer Desmond Richardson as an enormously courageous super-hero. He grasped Grendel by the arm and smashed his head, causing the monster to hurl himself into the abyss.

Eric Owens as Grendel and Desmond Richardson as Beowulf. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard
Eric Owens as Grendel and Desmond Richardson as Beowulf. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard

The well trained chorus of William Vendice helped bring to life the power of this piece while Goldenthal's unusual orchestration was underscored by the rhythmically alert conducting of Steven Sloane. Art is not always pretty or melodic and this piece is neither, but it certainly does command the attention of a serious audience.

Copyright © 18 June 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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ELLIOT GOLDENTHAL

LOS ANGELES OPERA

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