Saturday, March 11, 2023

The Newly Inspired Sound of Music

Arizona Opera often looks at ways to widen the audience or broaden the definition of opera. The latest example is their production of The Sound of Music, directed by Ian Silverman and starring Cadie J. Bryan as Maria and Jonathan Bryan as Captain Von Trapp. So how does a musical look as performed by an opera company?

Quite beautiful, it turns out. It's already a pleasure to hear live music and singing--and having this put together by an opera company means that the singers have different backgrounds than those you'll find at a typical musical. They add that extra, luxuriant quality to their singing. So the emphasis becomes even more on the singing than normal--or perhaps more on the technical delivery than just on the general tone of the songs.

Not that we lost the tone or the story. I've only watched The Sound of Music once, so it was a delight to delve back into the story. The themes around Maria's character center so perfectly around the idea that we each have a role in life, even if we don't always know what that role is. We see her trying to fit into a place that doesn't quite work--so the nuns offer her a different way to serve God and Man, as a teacher and then a wife and mother. Doing the right thing can take many shapes; it takes all of us, all of our shapes, to make the world turn. And Maria's very delight in the world and in life and in singing and joy that didn't make her fit in well at the convent are the very things that make her thrive in the Von Trapp household.

I have little to say on the technical sides of this production. The sets were beautiful, as usual; the way that the mountains were lit for day or darkened for evening was lovely. Having so many children on stage, all singing along, was impressive. But really it was just the way that everything expressed the story of this family coming together that made this opera's production of a musical just as elevated an experience as one of their operas. I wouldn't mind seeing more musicals show up in the season occasionally. 

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