BEST OPERA - 2003
Magic Flute @ Nautilus Music Theater
If you like the fresh, funky, and finely tuned operatic work you see featured by Theatre de la Jeune Lune in shows like their Magic Flute, you're partly appreciating the creativity of Nautilus Music Theater. Nautilus is a process-based studio that turns out original operatic sounds and character work. In that spirit, their recent showing of The Last Five Years, a new creation in the Rough Cuts series by Jason Robert Brown, was a wonderful example of what opera can, and will, be. The three-person piece, sung by Bradley Greenwald and Norah Long with Mindy Eschador at the keyboard, was performed to an intimate crowd at the Nautilus Studio and tracks a five-year relationship from first date to divorce. What the opera lacked in lavish staging, it made up for in dramatic complexity. The woman tells the story from the present, backward in time, and the man tells the same story from beginning to end. The contrasting dramatic arches were challenging for the actors: Only singers especially committed to character work would have been equipped to make the performance believable. People who know enough about opera to desire more than what the big boys are offering will want to sit in at the studio--or hope that the rumors prove true of a full staging under the direction of Ben Krywatz at the Southern Theater this fall.