Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Winter of a Performance...

The Atlanta Opera presented a specially staged performance of Schubert's monumental song cycle "Winterreise, " re-titled as "Winter Journey."  The baritone was David Adam Moore, accompanied by pianist Early Buys.  The performance was held at the relatively small Conant Performing Arts Center on the campus of Oglethorpe University. The scenery and projection design were by GLIMMR, a New York-based group, one of the principals of which did a short pre-recital talk about the staging.  

The small stage contained a construction that looked a bit like an iceberg, with a white screen.  There were few right angles to the set, and it contained a few levels.  It was perfect for this beautiful music by Schubert.  "Winterreise" is about the apprehension, sadness, and pain felt by the singer at he contemplates lost love or the potential to lose love.  This is generally thought to be a metaphor for Schubert losing one' greatest love- life.  The composer was dying of syphilis and he certainly knew his time was at hand.  

David Adam Moore provided a stunning performance.  He has a great voice and his understanding of using the stage in interaction with his body was remarkable.  He seemed so comfortable with being on stage that he was able to lay down, lean against the wall, walk around, and sit down- all while singing the beautiful lyrics.  He is able to pull this off, in part,  because he is a tall athletically toned man. Having to watch short plump baritone do what Moore did would simply not work, or worse, be laughable.  He was also dressed in a white hoodie, white athletic shoes and white skinny jeans.  

The visuals provided by GLMMR (of which Moore is a part) perfectly captured the winter cold that is at the core of this music.  Locations in New York, including Central Park, were suitably snowy and cold-looking.  A clip that particularly pleased the audience was background for the song titled "The Post." The song is about being disappointed that the postman didn't bring a letter from the singer's lover.  The video clip involved someone's hands smashing an iPhone, including attacking it with a hammer.  That resonated!  The final song is titled "The Hurdy-Gurdy Man."  It was videoed in the Utah desert, where the surface looked like snow because of overexposure. The hurdy-gurdy man of the lyrics was a metaphor for death.

AMC congratulates the Atlanta opera for this kind of outreach concert.  The house was filled and that is a very good thing.  

This was a touching, thrilling, and beautiful performance with an assured singer against a backdrop of inspired video.  It was a pleasure to experience, even given the sadness of the music.  

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