Sneak Preview Review: A SYNONYM FOR LOVE

by Lynn on August 20, 2012

in The Passionate Playgoer

Composed by George Frederic Handel. Libretto by Deborah Pearson. Stage direction by Ross Manson. Music director/conducted by Ashiq Aziz. Designed by Julie Fox. Starring: Emily Atkinson, Scott Belluz and Tracy Smith Bessette. At the Gladstone Hotel until Aug. 31.

Produced by Volcano and Classical Music Consort.

A SYNONYM FOR LOVE is an opera in which Handel gets handled. Based on his rarely done 1707 cantata for three voices entitled Clori, Tirsi e Fileno in which two shepherds love a shepherdess, the piece has been modernized so that now a bisexual woman leaves her lesbian lover for a weekend of sex with a man.

It takes place at the Gladstone Hotel, a natural site for such trysts, and the audience follows one of the three characters around the hotel as two cavort while the third frets and lurks. There are questions of open love vs monogamy; making promises one can’t keep; is this an intriguing look at modern relationships or just a tawdry wank?

Modernizing the opera to such an extent is bold. It’s stylishly directed by Ross Manson. Beautifully played by the orchestra on their period instruments and well sung for the most part by the cast of three. The acoustics of the rooms of the Gladstone are not conducive to hearing clearly what is being sung and often the orchestra drowns them out. Interesting exercise though.

Full review on Friday, on CIUT FRIDAY MORNING 89.5 FM 9 am to 10 am.

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