ARIADNE AUF LOWELLHAUS

THE BOSTON MUSICAL INTELLIGENCER, 4.01.17

"...The production of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos by Lowell House Opera at Harvard provides one of the more entertaining nights of opera I’ve seen in Boston....Lowell House Opera and director Roxanna Myhrum have made the most of this unusual confection. The Prologue was rewritten and sung in English, retaining the shape of the plot, but with many embellished details. The comic troupe is now an improv group, and the text (by Christopher Cowell) is filled with references to the Lowell House Masters (or Faculty Deans, as they call them now) as well as to Uber and other such artifacts of the present moment. It’s not quite thigh-slapping but it is entertaining and light. Embedded in the zaniness is a romantic scene where the Composer (mezzo-soprano Rebecca Krouner) falls in love with Zerbinetta, the leader of the comedy troupe, which I found oddly affecting. The Composer is a pants role, and costume designer Kristen Connolly really went for it. Krouner looked like an awkward adolescent in an ill-fitting suit and bowl haircut, and yet brought a surprising depth of emotion, a powerful voice, and strong sense of yearning to the moment."

Read the rest of the Intelligencer's review here.

'Queen of Spades' delivers a royal flush

the harvard crimson, 4.08.15

Staging opera is difficult. There is something twee to lush period productions; there is something objectionable to excessive and irrelevant grotesqueries of Regietheater. A middle path—stagings that are significant and meaningful for modern audiences, but still loyal to the spirit of their original librettos—is hard to find. Happily, the Lowell House Opera’s production of Tchaikovsky’s “Queen of Spades,” which ran March 25 through April 4, navigated this problem with aplomb and magnificence...

The musical aspect of the performance rose to superb virtuosity. Urusov’s performance of Gherman was showstopping: the power and clarity of his voice filled the performance space, and at the same time his acting was convincing and even moving, flying in the face of the stereotype of cartoonish operatic histrionics... It is rare to find a perfect production, and indeed many would argue that there is no such thing. Whatever the case, Lowell House Opera’s “Queen of Spades” came very close.

Read the rest of The Crimson's review here.

 

Lowell House Opera plays a winning 'Queen of Spades'

The Boston Globe, 3.27.15

“Eugene Onegin” may be Tchaikovsky’s most famous opera, but “The Queen of Spades,” which he completed in 1890, three years before his death, is hardly less accomplished. Adapted from the 1833 short story by Alexander Pushkin, and set in St. Petersburg in the late 18th century, during the reign of Catherine the Great, it’s the tale of an officer who gambles away the love of his life. Fate hangs over Tchaikovsky’s Hermann in the key of B minor, the key of “Swan Lake” and his final symphony, the “Pathétique.” With a large cast and locales including the Summer Garden and the Winter Canal, “The Queen of Spades” is an ambitious undertaking, but at its opening performance Wednesday, Harvard’s Lowell House Opera showed a winning hand...

The conceit of the Lowell House Opera production is that Hermann has gone mad and been confined to a mental institution. Stage director Roxanna Myhrum took this idea from Pushkin, since that’s what happens to Hermann at the end of the short story. It’s an ingenious solution to the problem of re-creating St. Petersburg in the Lowell House dining room. The entire opera takes place on just one set, whose slanting walls and distorted windows pay tribute to the 1920 German Expressionist film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.” Hermann imagines that the hospital attendants, all dressed in white, are his friends Tomsky and Chekalinsky and Surin and Liza’s girlfriends and the guests at a fancy ball. Prince Yeletsky is presented as a patron of the hospital, so it’s natural that he and the Countess and Liza would visit.

Read the rest of The Globe's review here.

 

Superior Music, Cast, and Chorus Bring "Lakmé" to Life

The Harvard Crimson, 3.31.14 

Though there is palpable chemistry between Redpath and McLinn, the best duet moments are captured by the more platonic relationships in “Lakmé,” namely, those between the title character and her two servants, Mallika (Heather Gallagher) and Hadji (Brian González). González’s acting gives life to a small part that often exists only as a plot device. His devotion to Redpath’s Lakmé is clear both in his physical movements onstage and his singing, loud enough to be heard but soft enough to show deference...

The music is beautifully communicated by Myhrum, who shone particularly in her use of the chorus. A challenge that many opera directors face is the placement of a chorus of singers who need to give a scene life without distracting from the music or central action. The market scene in the second act is exceptionally choreographed, with Myhrum coordinating the chorus’s movements with the music in a way that came off as exuberant, not cheesy.

Read the rest of The Crimson's review here
 

Lakmé After 100-Year Wait

The Boston Musical Intelligencer, 3.28.14 

The split-level stage, with railings, was decorated with handsome roll-up panels and muted colors, more modern than nineteenth-century in their filigreed patterning, and this was impressive as the lights came up on the opening scene: a chorus of 23 singers, elegantly but not garishly costumed, seated in lotus position. For Act II, the Market scene (a forerunner of the Act II setting in La Bohème, 12 years later), the panels were vegetarian and just as colorful, nicely reflecting the hustle and bustle...

I was astounded as well as delighted by the high quality of the singing. Liv Redpath, a senior at Harvard majoring in English, sang the title role with complete control and fine expression, and her confident rendition of the famous “Bell Song,” a difficult coloratura aria reaching to high E, brought a prolonged and well-deserved ovation.

Read the rest of the Intelligencer's review here
 

Britten & Shakespeare in Harvard Dining Room 

Boston Musical Intelligencer, 04.08.13

The LHO production, under Music Director Lidiya Yankovskaya, stage director Roxanna Myhrum, scenic and lighting designer Mark Buchanan, and costume designer Kristen Connolly, had numerous inventive features as well. Instead of the Shakespearean setting of classical Athens and its forest environs, Myhrum conceived it as a dream in its entirety set in an academic library with a window out on a bosky scene (the whole set very nicely realized by Buchanan), with the “Athenian gentlemen” Lysander and Demetrius (Joshua Collier and Ben Henry-Moreland respectively) so designated by their fraternity sweaters. The most ingenious conception was Puck, who in this production starts out as a student in the library falling asleep reading—guess what—and, as he responds to the fairies, first quoting from his book, then as an active participant, becomes ever more frantic and disheveled, until he reassembles himself for the epilogue.

Read the rest of the Intelligencer's review here
 

"Dream" Comes to Life in Lowell Opera

The Harvard Crimson, 4.5.13 

From the first strains of the floating strings and bells to the fade-in of the colored lights, the cast and crew of the Lowell House Opera’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” transports the audience from dining hall to library to forest. The music, lights, acting, and set design are so effective in creating the intersection of fairy realm and reality that they raise the question, as Puck asks, if the play truly is “no more yielding than a dream.”

Read the rest of The Crimson's review here
 

In Its 75th Year, LHO Evolves

The Harvard Crimson, 2.20.13

It’s not everyday that an opera company turns 75. In fact, there is only one such group in New England that can boast such a lengthy continuous run: the Lowell House Opera. This group, which mixes Harvard students with professional performers and a production team from the Cambridge and Boston communities, has been performing in the Lowell House dining hall since 1938.

Read the rest of The Crimson's feature on LHO's anniversary here.
 

Portrait of an Artist: Liv A. Redpath

The Harvard Crimson, 9.11.12

Liv A. Redpath ’14, an English concentrator in Pforzheimer House, is an active member of Harvard’s opera community. Redpath sits on the board of the Dunster House Opera (DHO) and is a lyric coloratura soprano. She has played many lead roles in shows at Harvard, including Rose in “Ruddigore,” Cunégonde in “Candide,” and Susanna in ”The Marriage of Figaro.” She even learned some Cyrillic for a Russian opera. Redpath shared her take on opera as a genre, the opera scene at Harvard, and DHO’s current plans for their upcoming production, “Cinderella.”

Read the rest of Liv's Q&A with The Crimson here.
 

Portrait of an Artist: Lidiya V. Yankovskaya

The Harvard Crimson, 3.27.12

As music director for the Lowell House Opera’s production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Snegurochka” (“The Snow Maiden”), Lidiya V. Yankovskaya brings an interdisciplinary approach to an unusual opera. A conductor and Russian native trained in piano, voice, and violin, Yankovskaya studied music, philosophy, and language at Vassar College and then received a master’s degree in conducting from Boston University. “Snegurochka” is the third Harvard production for which she has directed music; previously, she served as music co-director for LHO’s production of “Candide,” by Leonard Bernstein ’39, and as music director for the Harvard Yiddish Players’ staging of Avrum Goldfaden’s operetta “Shulamis.”

Read the rest of Lidiya's Q&A with The Crimson here.
 

Snegurochka Review 

The Arts Fuse, 3.23.12

Two days ago, Lowell House Opera premiered a fully-staged production—the first by an American company—of N. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden) in its original language: Russian. Russian opera is somewhat of a scarcity in the Boston area for many reasons, the foremost being that it is quite a mouthful for non-native speakers; despite this, the Lowell House Opera presentation generally deals with these difficulties successfully.

Read the rest of the Arts Fuse review here.
 

Lowell House Opera rides comedy, acting to success

The Harvard Crimson, 3.29.11

As the glittering chandeliers dim in the Lowell House Dining Hall, the lemon-yellow walls and checkerboard floors recede out of view and the chorus begins: “Fa Re Fa Si La Sol Fa Fa / Be welcome in Westphalia! / A scene of sweet simplicity, / Teutonical rusticity: / All hail, Westphalia!” If anything, “sweet simplicity” is a cruel joke for the unsuspecting operetta-goer. “Candide” is, in fact, a rigorous exercise in absurdity—a series of unfortunate events that takes its players on a ridiculous journey through Lisbon, Paris, Cadiz, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, “Eldorado,” and Venice on sinking boats, flying machines, and various other means of conveyance. A humorous and versatile cast overcomes the technical and spatial limitations necessary to producing such a globe-trotting show in a dining hall to deliver the operetta’s bawdy mockery of ‘l’optimisme.’

Read the rest of The Crimson's review here.
 

Snegurochka Review

Boston Musical Intelligencer, 3.22.12

Run, do not walk, to the Harvard ticket office for tickets to Rimski-Korsakov’s Snegurouchka, (“The Snow Maiden”), which is receiving its premier American performance as a fully staged opera in the original language by the Lowell House Opera Society. A great favorite in Russia, the opera seems nearly unknown in the west. The story, drawn from Russian folk tales, is no sillier than any other opera. In true Russian fashion the happy ending involves the heroine dissolving into a puddle of water while singing a beautiful aria, and her star-crossed lover, well, I won’t say what happens to him. But the music is gorgeous, full of Russian folk melodies, Wagnerian leitmotifs, and orchestration worthy of Ravel. The music director, Russian-born Lidiya Yankovskaya, conducted a remarkably capable orchestra with authority and sensitivity, and the singers uniformly delivered both excellent diction and acting. Lowell’s production is beyond reproach.

Read the rest of the Intelligencer's review here.
 

Harvard Rituals: Lowell House Opera 

Harvard Gazette, 3.04.10

For almost three-quarters of a century, the Lowell House Opera has given the Harvard community, and the community at large, something to sing about.

Each year the musical extravaganza transforms the stately dining hall into a dramatic stage set complete with full orchestra, elaborate costumes, and plenty of drama, deception, love, and laughter.

Established in 1938, the Lowell House Opera is the longest continually performing opera company in New England. Equal to its impressive history is its diverse composition. Performers represent an eclectic mix that includes Harvard undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni, as well as music students from the local area and community residents young and old.

Read the rest and see accompanying media here.
 

Tosca Video Preview 

Harvard Gazette, 2.24.10

The longest continually performing opera company in New England performs “Tosca.”

Check out the Gazette's video slideshow here.