Operas directed abnormally for blur accept been an arresting aesthetic byproduct of the Covid-19 pandemic, aperture new analytic avenues. A case in point is the cine of David T. Little’s “Soldier Songs,” created for the Opera Philadelphia Channel. The blur makes this 2006 monodrama alike added able than it was as staged theater. It is an immersive acquaintance that takes the admirers on a alarming dive into the apperception of a adept with post-traumatic accent disorder.
As directed and performed by baritone Johnathan McCullough, with a cine by James Darrah and Mr. McCullough, the adept lives in an Airstream bivouac ashore in an contrarily abandoned field. His home is an encampment, and all the details—the “Don’t Tread on Me” banderole outside; the bleak, claustrophobic autogenous with a consistently operating coffee maker and a blaster on the table—scream abreast and tension. Mr. Little based the libretto of “Soldier Songs” on interviews with accompany and ancestors associates who served in conflicts from World War II to Afghanistan. Their recorded announced accounts serve as an capital aspect in its agreeable texture, forth with the baritone abandoned allotment and a small, percussion-driven active ensemble. In the film, the camera’s assorted perspectives add still added layers of acceptation and sensation, and accentuate the violent, repetitive affection of the score.
The bound affecting arc starts with a attempt of the accessible acreage (there’s a abroad booming complete that could be gunfire) afore the camera zeroes in on the bivouac and its occupant. We see what’s accident axial the veteran’s arch as he relives his experiences. He plays at war—as a boyish with toy soldiers and as an boyish bedeviled with agitated videogames—and afresh segues into the absolute thing, announcement Metallica “to accumulate me entertained” while active a tank. Sometimes it’s now; sometimes it’s then; like the soldier, we’re never absolutely sure. The trailer’s window becomes the catchbasin window; afire acknowledgment creates a billow of smoke that becomes a bomb explosion, as Mr. McCullough tumbles out the aperture in action accessory and cries “Somebody bawl cut! This cine is out of control.”
Even quieter moments, like the song about the death-notification appointment by two Marines, sustain the atmosphere of dread. In an continued arrangement about how soldiers alarm admission ammunition “steel rain,” the recorded announced choir are apprehensible at first, afresh accumulation on top of anniversary added and deliquesce into the babble in the veteran’s arch as he crawls, afresh and again, through the field, beat airy enemies. And that Chekhovian gun in the aboriginal scene? It reappears, but it’s an accessible catechism as to whether it gets used. At the centermost of the film, Mr. McCullough proves able as both amateur and singer, his dead-eyed announcement a air-conditioned adverse to the affliction in his articulation and the amaranthine affliction acquired by the acquaintance of war that the audience, acknowledgment to his authoritative skills, can feel too. Corrado Rovaris led the acute seven-member active ensemble.
After that, I absolutely bare some banana relief, which was abundantly supplied by a new assembly of Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville’s “Titon et L’Aurore” (1753) from the Opéra Comique. Paris is on lockdown, so the appearance had alone one achievement this month, with no audience—the singers and players supplied the acclaim for one addition at the end. The video is accessible chargeless of allegation on Medici.tv through April 19.
This adorable bonbon is served up by administrator Basil Twist, acclaimed for his assignment with puppets, with music administration by the abundant William Christie arch his period-instrument ensemble Les Arts Florissants. It’s a pastoral ball with lots of dances and a simple plot: The attend Titon and the goddess L’Aurore (Dawn) are in love; a brace of anxious gods, Éole (god of the winds) and Palès (goddess of shepherds), boldness to abstracted them. Happily, Amour (Love) prevails.
Mr. Twist’s administration and architecture reflect the airiness of the allotment with billowing fabrics that arm-twist blaze and wind, L’Aurore’s irised aureate dress and Amour’s argent 18th-century cloister costume, all fabricated active by Jean Kalman’s bright lighting. Puppets are axial in the abundant dances, alpha with the Prologue, back earthen statues are brought to life. As befits a pastorale, boob sheep ball a above role. Palès has a downy alternation and brace of sheep companions. Mr. Twist blithely builds the comedy, with new sheep for anniversary dance, in the continued arena in which Palès tries to abduct Titon into infidelity. Her ovine assembly angle up and dance, added sheep arise in angry stacks, and still added active beasts alight from the flies. You can’t accumulate from laughing.
Standouts in the accomplished casting accommodate Gwendoline Blondeel, whose abundant acute brings amore and affluence to L’Aurore, and Emmanuelle de Negri, a comically abandoned Palès (listen to her ataxia “haine”—hatred). Julie Roset is a bright-voiced Amour, abnormally able in the bizarre passages. As Titon, Reinoud Van Mechelen comes into his own in his celebratory final aria; Marc Mauillon could use a bit added articulate weight as the awful Éole, but his animus affiliation with Ms. de Negri is a aerial point. Mr. Christie’s orchestra sparkles throughout, and their accelerated double-time repeats add to the show’s absolute embrace of fun.
—Ms. Waleson writes on opera for the Journal and is the columnist of “Mad Scenes and Exit Arias: The Death of the New York City Opera and the Future of Opera in America” (Metropolitan).
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