Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

STREET SCENE [OPERA]


STREET SCENE (1994). Director: José Montes-Baquer.

The original Broadway production of Street Scene -- based on Elmer Rice's play and with a score by Kurt Weill -- bridged the gap between musical and opera and did a fine job of it. This is a well-directed and filmed video/DVD [originally shown on television] of the outstanding production mounted by Houston Grand Opera. The storyline concerns the unhappy Maurant family -- the mother seeks tenderness in another man's arms; the daughter wants a better life but isn't willing to pay the price she might have to pay to get it; etc. It builds up inexorably to tragedy and a bittersweet but inevitable finale. Ashley Putnam and Teri Hansen are superb as, respectively, Mrs. Maurant and her daughter, Rose; Marc Embree also scores as Frank Maurant, as does Kip Wilborn as intellectual Sam (who loves Rose) -- but then the entire cast is of a high order. The many memorable songs/arias include Lonely Town, Wrapped in a Ribbon, What Good Will the Moon Be?, Somebody's Going to Be So Handsome, which Mrs. Maurant sings to young son Willie; her song about life and her husband's bitter lament about new-fangled notions; and especially the stunning love duet We'll Go Away Together. A very, very memorable and moving experience.

Verdict: Outstanding on every level. ****.

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