|Angela Niederloh as Julia Child | Photo by Kate Szrom|
The performances on Tuesday, February 11, took place in the Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre of the Hampton Opera Center. Three of them featured outstanding singers from the young artists program and the fourth starred veteran mezzo-soprano Angela Niederloh in Hoiby’s hilarious adaptation of a Julia Child cooking program.
Deft stage directions by Allison Narver, in her Portland Opera debut, made sure that the laughter kept coming and that all of the productions ran smoothly. Set designs by Peter Ksander took advantage of the fact that the Hampton Opera Center originally housed the studios of KPTV. So, mock-TV cameras were used to convey each opera as a live TV show.
|Emilie Faiella and Geoffrey Schellenberg in The Telephone |Photo by Kate Szrom/Portland Opera|
|Ricardo Garcia in A Hand of Bridge | Photo by Kate Szrom|
|Camille Sherman, Ricardo Garcia, Geoffrey Schellenberg, and Emilie Faiella in Gallantry | Photo by Kate Szrom|
Based on one of Julia Child’s televised cooking lessons for making a chocolate cake, Lee Hoiby’s Bon Appétit! rounded out the evening with mezzo-soprano Angela Niederloh in the starring role. Niederloh marvelously channeled the essence of Child, used impeccable comic timing and a beguiling smile to deliver the sung monologue while mixing ingredients and downing a glass of wine. One of the best moments came when she placed a big spoon of melted chocolate in her mouth and told us how delicious it was.
From my perch, I could see the assistants who continuously shuffled the food items and various kitchen implements to Niederloh so that she could do everything so seamlessly. They deserved an extra round of kudos.
Nicholas Fox conducted the singers and accompanist Sequoia. Christine A. Richardson’s costumes were spot on and lighting by Carl Faber was splendid. All of the performers were top-notch, and I am looking forward to hearing all of the voices again in the near future.