Review: Fresh Squeezed Opera’s Concert of Nano Operas by Women Composers
Women Opera Composers Shine in Fresh Squeezed Opera Company’s Concert
On March 3, 2017, the Fresh Squeezed Opera Company presented a Concert of Nano Operas by Women Composers at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center in Manhattan. The performance opened with the American Premiere of Nicole Murphy’s The Kamikaze Mind. Featuring a libretto by Richard James Allen, which he adapted from his book, this micro-opera utilized three singers and a piano quintet to explore the journey of a man’s consciousness floating through space and questioning the relationships he had when living.
Murphy, an Australian composer and PhD student at the University of Queensland, implemented spoken voice, humming, and wordless singing throughout to establish atmosphere. The text of The Kamikaze Mind stuck out as more cerebral than emotion-driven. The plot of the piece moved non-linearly, operating more like stream of consciousness prose than traditional dramatic writing. Sometimes the arrangement style was a bit horizontal, lacking variation in levels. However, the vocal writing was extremely well done and the use of word painting never veered into the realm of overuse or exaggeration. Overall, the gorgeous orchestral writing evoked all the immensity and fullness of space rather than its cold emptiness.
Whitney George’s conducting achieved the goal of being both clear and expressive. Her angular style served the ensemble well, expertly navigating the difficult entrances and delicate balances in the work. Markus Kaitila (piano) navigated Murphy’s lyrical writing with ease, mimicking the sparkle of starlight. The other four instrumentalists (Lish Lindsey on flute, Sammy Lesnick on clarinet, Victoria Lewis on violin, and Brian Sanders on cello) functioned like a veteran string quartet, attuned to one another and lending the focus when necessary.
Shane Brown’s baritone handled the challenge of the piece with finesse. His English diction remained superb throughout and his phrasing flowed with musically-informed shapes. Michael Celentano brought a strong and compelling tenor voice to the piece and Caroline Miller’s warm soprano intro