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Singer’s Notes 129: The Consul, the Tramp, and America’s Sweetheart at Oldcastle; Hamlet at Shakespeare & Co.; Kožená at Union College


David Joseph as Charlie Chaplin and Elizabeth Aspenlieder as Mary Pickford in The Consul, the Tramp, and America's Sweetheart at the Oldcastle Theatre Company

David Joseph as Charlie Chaplin and Elizabeth Aspenlieder as Mary Pickford in The Consul, the Tramp, and America’s Sweetheart at the Oldcastle Theatre Company

Oldcastle Theatre Company’s The Consul, the Tramp, and America’s Sweetheart, a world premiere by John Morogiello

Yet another success for this Company. There was vivid acting. Elizabeth Aspenlieder, as Mary Pickford, is an arresting actress, her voice resonant, her intentions clear. Ms. Aspenlieder enlivens every role she takes. She makes the character happen. There was an exceptional performance from David Joseph in the role of Charlie Chaplin. His work on the role, particularly the physical aspect of the character had a completeness which he imagined carefully and made his own. The play itself discussed a serious issue with lightness. It kept us suspended between the natural humor of the playwright and the seriousness of the action.

Hamlet, a Staged Reading at Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company’s staged reading of Hamlet was equally vivid. Kate Abbruzzese, as Ophelia, was superbly believable—a deer in the headlights if you like. I have not seen this character so simply, directly played. The mad scene was not contrived, but almost stumbled through. Even having the script in hand, she made us invest completely in her tragedy. So much of the role, on the page, seems simple; on stage, simple is hard. Ms. Abbruzzese knew how to do it.

Finn Wittrock gave us a forthright and direct Hamlet. He seemed to have the whole picture of the play and the dilemma of the character hanging in a balance, which enthralled. There was no moaning, no crooning meditation—just the words—clear, strong, direct words. For once I believed this Hamlet when he said “there is so much more I could tell you if I had the time…”  Mr. Wittrock’s whole performance had a calmness. The directness of it was a beautiful thing. One saw the process of acting, even if it is read, and the great scenes, largely done from memory, not only as a narrative, but as a process.

Magdalena Kožená

Magdalena Kožená

Magdalena Kožená at the Union College Concert Series

I love Pelléas et Mélisande, particularly the performances given by two marvelous mezzo-sopranos- Lorraine Hunt and the Czech mezzo, Magdalena Kožená.  It was a great privilege to go to Union College’s Chapel to hear Kožená in a varied program which rang through the hall.  Her unique timbre, forceful but never forced, convinced.  Particularly in the Hugo Wolf selections from Morike-Lieder, where extremes of emotion abounded, she found a place for each, from the tragic “Wo find ich Trost”, to the hilarious “Abschied” which ends with a critic being kicked down the hall.  Malcolm Martineau was the very involved pianist, enjoying the concert with the audience.  This was good.  The sympathy between the two artists was almost a tactile thing.  Like all the finest singers, Ms. Kožená sounds like no-one else.

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