Carmen is an opera in four acts by the French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Hal?vy, based on a novella of the same title by Prosper M?rim?e. The opera was first performed at the Op?ra-Comique in Paris, on 3 March 1875, and at first was not particularly successful. Its initial run extended to 36 performances, before the conclusion of which Bizet died suddenly, and thus knew nothing of the opera?s later celebrity.
The opera, written in the genre of op?ra comique with musical numbers separated by dialogue, tells the story of the downfall of Don Jos?, a na?ve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery Gypsy, Carmen. Jos? abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts from his military duties, yet loses Carmen?s love to the glamorous toreador Escamillo, after which Jos? kills her in a jealous rage. ? Wikipedia
Since it was the composer?s favorite among his many great shows, it?s perhaps appropriate that Richard Rodgers emerges as the hero of this revival of Carousel.
The score is in the hands of a master orchestra-tor ? Larry Blank ? whose skill in condensing Don Walker?s original orchestration down to seventeen musicians (admittedly a lavish number by today?s standards) is such that one could almost believe that there were twice as many people sitting in the pit.
That?s important because in this of all shows, the music tells the story as much as the words, such as in ?The Carousel Waltz?, a mimed opening number that takes the place of an overture, or the Act II Ballet. Or on other occasions, the music tells us more than the surface meaning of the words. This is the case, for instance, in Billy?s ?Soliloquy?, when the outward romance of the lyrics for the ?My little girl? section is underscored with eerie augmented chords that foreshadow the death that will come upon Billy when he agrees to commit a crime in order to steal money for his putative daughter.
In addition to this, Rodgers and Hammerstein expand their vocabulary in this work by using music in new fluid ways. For instance, they arrive at the ?song? part of ?Mister Snow? by way of an introduction in which Julie and Carrie speak in un-pitched rhythm with a musical underscoring and a section of recitative that is so distinctive and lyrical (?You?re a Queer One, Julie Jordan?) that it could almost be a song on its own. The same thing happens in Act II, when Enoch Snow?s ?Geraniums in the Winder? and Jigger?s ?Stonecutters Cut it on Stone? are really just an extensive introduction to the extraordinarily poignant ?What?s the Use of Won?drin?.
Thanks to Blank?s lush orchestration and David Firman?s secure conducting, the musical aspect of this Carousel is almost wholly satisfying, and the consistently good cast does full justice to the score.
However, the production is a different story. We should undoubtedly separate discussion of Lindsay Posner?s direction from that of William Dudley?s set designs. The latter, I?m afraid, are all over the shop, from this showing at least. Dudley was responsible for the designs of Andrew Lloyd Webber?s The Woman in White, and his contribution to that show was perhaps the weakest aspect of it for me. It was something of the same story here, because the sets for Carousel are a mixture of animated projections and rather two-dimensional bits of scenery. Although the projected carousel with dancing inside it was quite impressive, the opening tableau consisted of an animated Ferris wheel on a wobbly wall and a flown-in flat in front of it. The perspectives here and in several other scenes ? Nettie?s spa standing in front of a wobbly image of a ship, the somewhat horrendous ?arrivals lounge? on the way to heaven ? were so badly done as to be distracting. The Bench Scene looked plain cheap, again with a cut-out tree and a bog-standard circular tree seat in front of a projected sky. I?m sorry, but the American musical theatre is not a computer game, and it seems sadly ironic that a production that has overcome the usual trouble of trying to use amplification and keyboards to cover up not having enough musicians in the pit has instead resorted to technological artifice in its designs.
The happy news is that Posner?s direction is actually pretty sharp and detailed; considering it was only the second performance, the show was remarkably slick. One of the difficult things to pull off in Carousel is that Julie has to stand by Billy even when he strikes her and has no job, yet she mustn?t seem like a drip. Here, the relationship was all about an unquestioning love, which provided energy to the story-line. The advent of Jigger was more explicitly like the emergence of the Devil come to tempt Billy down the road to Hell ? indeed, the strongly Judaeo-Christian dimensions of the story were even more pronounced than normal here. There were some nice touches, such as the factory girls stamping their cards when going into work at the opening, before the curtain went up to reveal the fairground. Posner also knows how to punctuate the big moments, most notably the cliff hanger at the end of Act I: in a magnificent piece of chiaroscuro, Billy agrees to commit robbery and murder in order to get money for his family, then Nettie comes on singing the jarringly merry ?June is Bustin? Out All Over? to ask him to the clambake. The emotional pull here and throughout is enhanced by a very detailed direction of the cast, whose psychological understanding of every line seems deep indeed.
In Alexandra Silber and Jeremiah James, the production has a well-matched Julie and Billy, with Silber taking the honors for the complete package: looks, emotional and character development, voice and a maturity beyond her years. James overcame some pitching problems apparent in ?If I Loved You? and by ?Soliloquy? he was able to give a brilliant vocal performance that was enhanced by an underlining of the mental twists and turns that occur in this number (not helped by the annoying seashore backdrop: why were the waves crashing when the Ferris wheel was still, and why were the blades of grass bigger than Billy?). Lesley Garrett is in less obviously secure territory as Nettie Fowler than she was as the Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music, but apart from an inconsistency in her American accent when singing and speaking, she was utterly charming, and she communicated a genuine connection with ?You?ll Never Walk Alone?.
Graham MacDuff was ideally cast as Jigger Craigin and on top of embodying sinister malevolence, he sang strongly too. Lauren Hood was the perfect soubrette as Carrie, though not always meticulous in her tuning; to me, Alan Vicary was a bit old and dull even for Enoch Snow, but ultimately I guess that?s the point, and he sang his numbers well. It was nice to have a believably virile Mrs Mullin in Diana Kent, adding tension in her scenes with Billy and Julie. David Collings was excellent as the Starkeeper, making sense of a long acting scene, and Lindsey Wise?s Louise made a strong impression in the Ballet, fluidly choreographed by ex-Royal Ballet principal Adam Cooper (whose contributions were efficient rather than striking on the whole).
In fact, there?s relatively little to complain about that won?t be ironed out as the production goes on a short tour prior to coming to the Savoy in the West End. I would seriously question whether the sets ? even if the wall they?re projected onto is made less wobbly ? will allow it to run as long as the cast deserves. Yet the genius of Rodgers and Hammerstein and the commitment of the team both in the pit and on the stage means that it?s well worth seeing.
Charley?s Aunt is a farce in three acts written by Brandon Thomas. It broke all historic records for plays of any kind, with an original London run of 1,466 performances. The play was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds in February 1892. It was produced by former D?Oyly Carte Opera Company actor W. S. Penley, a friend of Thomas?s, who appeared in the principal role of Lord Fancourt Babberley, an undergraduate whose friends Jack and Charley persuade him to impersonate the latter?s aunt. The piece was a success, and it then opened in London at the Royalty Theatre on 21 December 1892 and quickly transferred to the larger Globe Theatre on 30 January 1893 to complete its record-breaking run. ? wikipedia
Cinderella sees beautiful things in her daydreams, and tries to live her little, starved life in a way to deserve them. Her stepmother and sisters catch her idling, and tear up the dress she has made from their discarded ones. After they have departed for the Prince?s ball, the Fairy Godmother appears, provides Cinderella with a dress which puts her sisters? glamourous gowns to shame, and sends her off to the ball in a golden coach. At the ball she captivates the Prince, but stays too long, loses her slipper, and escapes pursuit only after a breathless chase. Next day, when the Prince comes looking for his lost Princess, he tries the slipper on both step-sisters, each trying vainly to get it on, and is ready to leave before he discovers his Princess.? Wikipedia
Clue The Musical?is a musical with a??plot that concerns a murder at a mansion, occupied by several suspects, that is solved by a detective; the ending is determined by cards drawn by audience members that select the murderer, murder weapon and location of the murder. The piece has an interactive feature in which audience members randomly select cards that determine which suspect committed the murder, which weapon was used, and in what room the murder took place. Based on the cards drawn, the show has 216 possible endings, with some interchangeable dialogue between characters that is delivered as the story unfolds. A film version of the game was released in 1985, followed by a UK television series in 1990. In 1993, DePietro and Chiodo wrote the musical. After tryouts in Baltimore in 1995 and Chicago in 1996, the musical ran Off-Broadway in 1997, receiving mostly unfavorable reviews.-Wikipedia
The Comedy of Errors relies heavily on mix-ups and witty dialogue. The characters include two sets of twins, Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse. Dromio of Ephesus is the slave of Antipholus of Ephesus, and Dromio of Syracuse is the slave of Antipholus of Syracuse. Antipholus of Ephesus is unaware that he has a twin brother, Antipholus of Syracuse. And Dromio of Ephesus is unaware that he also has a twin brother, Dromio of Syracuse. Farcical mix-ups occur when all the twins converge in Ephesus. It is believed that The Comedy of Errors was first printed in 1623 as part of the First Folio. As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance.?Wikipedia
The title, Cos? fan tutte, literally means ?Thus do all [women]? but it is often translated as ?Women are like that?. The words are sung by the three men in Act II, Scene xiii, just before the finale. Da Ponte had used the line ?Cos? fan tutte le belle? earlier in Le nozze di Figaro (in Act I, Scene vii).Mozart and Da Ponte took as a theme ?fianc?e swapping? which dates back to the 13th century, with notable earlier versions being those of Boccaccio?s Decameron and Shakespeare?s play Cymbeline. Elements from Shakespeare?s The Taming of the Shrew are also present. Furthermore, it incorporates elements of the myth of Procris as found in Ovid?s Metamorphoses, vii?Wikipedia
A ?new? Gershwin musical comedy, Crazy For You was the quintessential musical ? one where everybody sings, everybody dances and where anything on hand is used to make music. The plot was nothing new, having been adapted from the 1930s musical, Girl Crazy, but with an energetic cast, a touch of outrageously funny humor, colorful costumes, great scenery and one of the best musical scores of the century ? who could ask for anything more?? Wikipedia
Faust, fly balls, and devilishly good fun all meet at the home plate of the 7 Tony Award winning Broadway musical, Damn Yankees.
This is the story of a 1950s middle-aged baseball fanatic who trades his soul to the Devil for a chance to lead his favorite team in the pennant race against The New York Yankees only to realize the true worth of the life (and wife) he?s left behind.
Filled with hit songs like ?Whatever Lola Wants? and ?You Gotta Have Heart?, this show is a musical comedy home run!
Henry Purcell. Tragic opera in three acts. 1689 or earlier.
Libretto by Nahum Tate, after his play Brutus of Alba and Virgil?s Aeneid.
First performance at Josias Priest?s school in Chelsea, London, before December 1689, with a possible earlier performance as a court masque in 1684.
Dido, the widowed Queen of Carthage, entertains the Trojan Prince Aeneas, shipwrecked on his way to Italy, where he will found a new Troy. Dido and Aeneas are in love. Witches plot Dido?s destruction and the Sorceress conjures a storm, to break out when the royal couple are hunting, and the impersonation of Mercury by one of her coven. The storm duly breaks and the courtiers hasten back to town, while the false Mercury tells Aeneas he must leave Dido and sail for Italy. Aeneas and his sailors prepare to leave, to the delight of the witches. Aeneas parts from Dido, who kills herself once he has gone, her death lamented by mourning cupids.
It has been plausibly suggested that Purcell?s short opera Dido and Aeneas was originally designed as a court masque, and possible topical political allusions have been proposed, notably in the light of the future James II?s Catholicism, seen to deflect him from his duty as a future king, a hypothetical intrigue that casts the Jesuits as witches. The work owes something to John Blow?s Venus and Adonis of 1683. Most famous of all elements in the opera is Dido?s lament, When I am laid in earth, with its descending ground bass borrowed from current Venetian practice.
17th-century Venice ? a city of darkness and shadows, where danger lurks in every alleyway and corruption is rife. In the centre of it all, a man with the power to seduce women at will: Don Giovanni.
Arrogant, audacious, living life from one opportunity to the next, he sets his sights on his next unsuspecting conquest. When her father intervenes, Don Giovanni flees with blood on his hands. Chased by shadows and moving inexorably towards a chilling confrontation, have his demons finally caught up with him?
Dark, vivid and bursting with life, Don Giovanni is full-blooded opera at its best, combining exquisite music, powerful orchestration, intense drama and lightly crafted comedy.
Based upon a few circumstantial details and a lot of intuition, the ultra-stern nun, Sister Aloysius Beauvier believes that one of the priests at the St. Nicholas Catholic Church and School has been molesting a 12-year-old boy named Donald Muller, the school?s only African American student. Sister Aloysius recruits a young, naive nun (Sister James) to assist her in monitoring the suspicious yet charismatic Father Flynn. She also addresses her concerns to Donald?s mother, who surprisingly is not horrified or even shocked by the allegations. (Mrs. Muller is more concerned about her son getting into high school and avoiding a beating from his dad.) The play concludes with a one-on-one confrontation between Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn as she attempts to get the truth out of the priest. ?Wikipedia
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Jews and Orthodox Christians live in the little village of Anatevka in the pre-revolutionary Russia of the Czars. Among the traditions of the Jewish community, the matchmaker arranges the match and the father approves it. The milkman Reb Tevye is a poor man that has been married for twenty-five years with Golde and they have five daughters. When the local matchmaker Yente arranges the match between his older daughter Tzeitel and the old widow butcher Lazar Wolf, Tevye agrees with the wedding. However Tzeitel is in love with the poor tailor Motel Kamzoil and they ask permission to Tevye to get married that he accepts to please his daughter. Then his second daughter Hodel (Michele Marsh) and the revolutionary student Perchik decide to marry each other and Tevye is forced to accept. When Perchik is arrested by the Czar troops and sent to Siberia, Hodel decides to leave her family and homeland and travel to Siberia to be with her beloved Perchik. When his third daughter Chava decides to get married with the Christian Fyedka, Tevye does not accept and considers that Chava has died. Meanwhile the Czar troops evict the Jewish community from Anatevka. ?Wikipedia
Forever Plaid is an off-Broadway musical comedy written by Stuart Ross in New York in 1990 and now performed internationally. The critically acclaimed show is an affectionate revue of the close-harmony ?guy groups? (e.g. The Four Aces, The Four Freshmen) that reached the height of their popularity during the 1950s. Personifying the clean-cut genre are the Plaids. This quartet of high-school chums? earnest dreams of recording an album ended in death (literally and indeed, symbolically) in a collision with a bus filled with Catholic schoolgirls on their way to see the Beatles? American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. The play begins with the Plaids returning from the afterlife for one final chance at musical glory. ?Wikipedia
In Florence in 1299, wealthy Buoso Donati has just died, leaving his assets to the monks. His outraged heirs accept the services of Gianni Schicchi, who proposes a ruse for replacing the will disinheriting them with another one. Prepared to do anything in order to become rich, the gullible heirs will ultimately be duped by the wily Schicchi, who will abscond with the bulk of their inheritance.
Originally staged as a five-hour amateur production in a Chicago trolley barn, Grease took a satirical look at the dress, manners, morals, and music of teenagers at the beginning of the rock and roll era. The plot revolves primarily around the attraction between greaser Danny Zuko and the virtuous Sandy Dumbrowski. The show spawned such musical hits as ?Summer Nights,? ?Greased Lightning,? and ?Beauty School Dropout.? Grease opened at the Off-Broadway Eden Theatre, moved on to Broadway at the Broadhurst, and was eventually transferred to the Royale. Along the way, it enjoyed a run of 3,388 performances?a record which would stand until 1980 when it was overtaken by A Chorus Line. The original cas featured Barry Bostwick and Carole Demas. John Travolta and Olivia Newton John starred in the 1978 film version. ?Wikipedia
Desperate to find money to pay for his floating crap game, Nathan Detroit bets Sky Masterson a thousand dollars that Sky will not be able to take a local Salvation Army girl, Sarah Brown, to Cuba. While Sky eventually is able to convince Sarah to join him, Nathan battles with his fianc? of fourteen years, Adelaide. Meanwhile in Cuba, Sky ends up falling in love with Sarah and tries to reform his gambling ways. When he returns back to New York, he bets all the members of the floating crap game that if he wins his roll of the dice, they will all have to go to church and repent. If he loses, he will give them each a thousand dollars. He ends up winning and all the gamblers end up visiting the mission and repenting their sins. Dancing in this show requires jazz and showdance. ?Wikipedia
The story starts in Seattle with stage mother, Rose, pushing her two daughters into Uncle Jocko?s Kiddie Show. June, her mother feels, is the most likely to become a star. Louise is plainer and quieter, she stands meekly in her sister?s shadow. A new act called ?Baby June and her Newsboys? is conceived by Rose, and the family is off to the ?big time? in Los Angeles. The act steeped in star spangled banners, dancing horses (Louise plays the rear end), and screaming newsboys moves to Dallas, Akron, New York, Buffalo, and Omaha. Along the way, Rose meets Herbie, a theatrical agent, and hires him as manager. He makes himself father to the troupe, sharing with them their meals of chow mein ? Rose?s favorite food. Rose scrimps as she schemes and scrambles for bookings and billings to maintain their hand-to-mouth existence.
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, often shortened to?Hamlet, is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare at an uncertain date between 1599 and 1602. Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, the play dramatises the revenge Prince Hamlet is instructed to enact on his uncle Claudius. Claudius had murdered his own brother, Hamlet?s father King Hamlet, and subsequently seized the throne, marrying his deceased brother?s widow, Hamlet?s mother Gertrude.?Hamlet?is Shakespeare?s longest play and among the most powerful and influential tragedies in English literature, with a story capable of ?seemingly endless retelling and adaptation by others.? The play seems to have been one of Shakespeare?s most popular works during his lifetime and still ranks among his most-performed, topping the performance list of the Royal Shakespeare Company and its predecessors in Stratford-upon-Avon since 1879. It has inspired writers from Goethe and Dickens to Joyce and Murdoch, and has been described as ?the world?s most filmed story after?Cinderella? ??wikipedia
A matchmaker named Dolly Levi takes a trip to Yonkers, New York to see the ?well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire,? Horace Vandergelder. While there, she convinces him, his two stock clerks and his niece and her beau to go to New York City. In New York, she fixes Vandergelder?s clerks up with the woman Vandergelder had been courting, and her shop assistant (Dolly has designs of her own on Mr. Vandergelder, you see). ?Wikipedia
H.M.S. Pinafore; or, The Lass That Loved a Sailor?is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and a libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It opened at the Opera Comique in London, England, on 25 May 1878 and ran for 571?performances, which was the second-longest run of any musical theatre piece up to that time.?H.M.S. Pinafore?was Gilbert and Sullivan?s fourth operatic collaboration and their first international sensation. The story takes place aboard the British ship HMS?Pinafore. The captain?s daughter, Josephine, is in love with a lower-class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, although her father intends her to marry Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty. She abides by her father?s wishes at first, but Sir Joseph?s advocacy of the equality of humankind encourages Ralph and Josephine to overturn conventional social order. They declare their love for each other and eventually plan to elope. The captain discovers this plan, but, as in many of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, a surprise disclosure changes things dramatically near the end of the story.? ??wikipedia
The House at Pooh Corner (1928) is the second volume of stories about Winnie-the-Pooh, written by A. A. Milne and illustrated by E. H. Shepard. It is notable for the introduction of the character Tigger, who went on to become a prominent figure in the Disney Winnie the Pooh franchise.
The title comes from a story in which Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet build a house for Eeyore. In another story the game of Poohsticks is invented.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a musical with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, based on Shepherd Mead?s 1952 book of the same name. The musical opened on Broadway in 1961, initially running for 1,417 performances. The show won seven Tony Awards and the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 1967, a film based on the musical was released by United Artists, with many of the original cast recreating their roles. A 1995 revival was mounted on Broadway starring Matthew Broderick and Megan Mullally. ?Wikipedia
The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. It is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious person? to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play?s major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways. Contemporary reviews all praised the play?s humour, though some were cautious about its explicit lack of social messages, while others foresaw the modern consensus that it was the culmination of Wilde?s artistic career so far. Its high farce and witty dialogue have helped make The Importance of Being Earnest Wilde?s most enduringly popular play.?Wikipedia