Vulcan Lyric, a new opera theater company in Philadelphia led by music director Andrew Kurtz, has launched an exciting summer festival. Intended to 'fill a gap' in the summer months' programming in Philadelphia, the festival presents new or recently premiered opera theater works, including musical theater. This year's offerings included the world premiere of Maren of Vardø: Satan's Bride, The Heathers (musical), Glory Denied, and La hija de Rappaccini (Rappaccini's Daughter).
I attended the last work by Daniel Catan, which was performed in the chamber version (with 2 pianos, harp and 2 percussion). The performance definitely captured the lyricism of Catan's score and for the most part held the dramatic tension as the story unfolded. Marco Panuccio gave a particularly riveting performance as Giovanni, and duets with Jennifer Braun as Beatriz were the musical highlight of the performance. The production design with video projections on a set of movable scrims combined with lighting evocative of Renaissance painting made for a stunning production overall even with limited performing forces. The chamber version of the orchestra would not have detracted from my experience of the opera if it had not been for the substitution of acoustic pianos (grand or otherwise) with electronic keyboards. No matter the reason for this choice - was it space in the pit? constrained budget perhaps? - acoustic instruments would have added color and resonance to the performance and provided a sonic realm suitable to the visual realm created on stage.
In keeping with our aim to promote the printed scores of new music, here is a link to a synopsis of Catan's opera with ISSUU links for score viewing at the bottom of the page.