Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Magic Knight (Light Opera of New York)

By Harry Forbes

LOONY’s real season doesn’t get underway till 2014 when they’ll be doing full productions of Sigmund Romberg’s “The New Moon” and Victor Herbert’s “Orange Blossoms.”

But, in anticipation of those events, the enterprising company presented a one-night reprise of Herbert’s one-act “Lohengrin” spoof, which they had previously mounted in 2008.

Even with only piano accompaniment (and that was most excellently provided by David Mayfield), the wit and charm of the piece – originally part of a double bill that included Herbert’s “Dream City” when it premiered in 1906 to rapturous reviews -- shone through.

Since it’s such a short piece, LOONY preceded it with an audition skit which allowed the singers “auditioning” for “The Magic Knight” to perform various other items.

Thus, we had Rich Miller’s (intentionally over-the-top) “I’m Falling in Love with Someone” from “Naughty Marietta”; Peter Büchi’ “Ch’ella mi creda” from “La Fanciulla del West”; Jane Brendler Büchi’s rarely heard “So Ends My Dream” from Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Grand Duke”; Samantha Britt’s florid “Love is Where You Find It”; an “Andrea Chenier” aria by Jonathan Fox Powers; and Richard Holmes lusty “Come Gypsies” from Kalman’s “Countess Maritza.”

For “The Magic Knight,” these excellent soloists were joined by a chorus of seven which generated a satisfyingly rich sound. The piece included a virtuoso coloratura number for Britt as Elsa (which she sang to the hilt), and an infectiously tuneful vaudeville-style number for Lohengrin (Miller) called “Ta Ta.”

“The Magic Knight,” incidentally, will be done again next summer at Ohio Light Opera with its “Dream City” companion piece, and a full orchestra.

For more of a Herbert fix, I’m greatly looking forward to LOONY’s rarely staged “Orange Blossoms” next April.

(Light Opera of New York, National Opera Center, 330 Seventh Avenue at 29th Street;
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