June 2002 [oberlin online]
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The Big Picture

Kudos to the Oberlin Opera Theater

Geschke '04 and Leich '02. Photo by Al Fuchs.

A "hip trip" is how the Cleveland Plain Dealer described the Oberlin Opera Theater's production of The Rake's Progress.

Oberlin Opera Theater director Jonathon Field transported the story from its original setting in 18th-century London to the late 20th century. This scene from the opera, which tells the story of the wasted life of Tom Rakewell, features Kristen Leich '02 as the seductive Mother Goose and Edward Geschke '04 as the diabolical Nick Shadow.

"Stage director Jonathon Field and his crafty design team have conjured up a contemporary spin on Stravinsky and librettists W.H. Auden and Charles Kallman, complete with cocaine, television, and groovy guys and dolls," wrote music critic Donald Rosenberg of the March production.

"It works," he continued. "The production ... is an amusing and smart updating, but only visually. Stravinsky's neo-classic score is intact, and the cast sings with a rhythmic vitality and urgency that splendidly convey the work's themes of love and temptation. In less consistent hands, the concept might not have clicked."

In addition to complimenting the cast ("What a ball these singers have depicting the seedier side of British society"), Rosenberg said the costuming evoked "the atmosphere of cool, self-indulgent city life."

Rosenberg also applauded the orchestra.

"The excellence extended to the pit, where Paul Polivnick [music director of Conservatory orchestras] conducted a buoyant account of Stravinsky's tricky score. As always in Oberlin, the orchestral playing was remarkable." ATS

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