Review in Brief: Marble City Opera’s ‘La Davina’ and ‘Gallantry’

It seems that Marble City Opera crossed a mysterious, but rewarding, threshold last weekend with its performances of two one-act comedies La Davina (Thomas Pasatieri) and Gallantry (Douglas Moore). The performances in the gallery of the Emporium Center seemed to transcend an issue that is mostly fundamental to chamber opera, that of environment. Although Marble City Opera has, in the past, performed in a widely diverse number of venues of varying theatrical capability, one generally felt inextricably bound to that venue by what was there, or what wasn’t. I can say—with great encouragement—that last weekend’s performances were so captivating that I truly forgot about the hard plastic chair I sat on in the middle of an art gallery. Instead, the singers were totally successful in pulling me into their world of musical parody with vocal excellence and comic persuasion. Kudos to stage directors Kathryn Frady and James Marvel for an accomplishment that reminded the audience what theatre is all about.

La Davina concerned the farewell performance of an aging diva, and the tribulations of her personal assistant and manager who have had to put up with the star’s temperament. In the role of the diva, Adeline, was Jacquie Brecheen; her assistant, Matthew, was sung by Austin Kness; her assistant, Cecily, was sung by April Hill; conductor Ace Edewards even had an onstage turn. Why was I even surprised that he had an excellent voice? The pianist was Brandon Coffer.

Brecheen (Lola) , Kness (Dr. Gregg), and Hill (the Announcer) were joined by tenor Ryan Ford (Donald) for Gallantry, a parody of soap opera that turned the genre on its ear. For some reason—possibly too much volume from the piano in this work—I missed a bit of the lyrics and thus missed a bit of the comic intent. Nevertheless, the singers saved the day and I was again pulled into their one-act world.

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