Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Solidarity with Solidarity / Cindy White

San Francisco Cabaret Opera presents Patrick Dailly's Solidarity. September 27, Live Oak Theatre, Berkeley, CA. Repeated October 3, 10, 11, Flux 53 Theater, Oakland. Reviewed October 11.

It's not every day that one has the opportunity to hear and see Pope John Paul II, Lech Walesa, and Ronald Reagan sing and dance, but such was the case at Oakland's rustic Flux 53 Theater, where San Francisco Cabaret Opera (Harriet March Page, Artistic Director) presented the world premiere of English-Netherlandish composer Patrick Dailly's Solidarity -- musical-theatrical romp through a variety of styles including minimalism, chant, and broadway.

This 75-minute chamber opera, starring the wondrous soprano Kristen Brown as Walesa, is an adventure in style and substance, collapsing the adventures of the Polish Solidarity trade union and the imposition of martial law underWojciech Jaruzelski (impressively portrayed by Eric Carter) through the tempestuous years of the early 1980's.

From the sparkling prelude, rendered here by an expert ensemble of pianist Keisuke Nakagoshi, accordionist John Bilotta, and clarinetist Nora Jones, under the direction of Mark Alburger -- the work's breathless pace thrills in the opening chorus of workers surrounding the pope (the engaging Nathan Markam) through the shattering closing moments (respectively interpreted in radient high notes by Indre Viscontas and Eliza O'Malley).

Other engaging aspects included Roger McCracken's richly sinister and comic potrayals of Leonid Brezhnev and Zbignew Brzezinski, Dalyte Kodzis's graceful voice and choreography (of such equally lithe spirits as Julia Hathaway and Sarah-Nicole Ruddy), and Justin Marsh's poignant tenor lines.