20th Century Opera - Postcard from Morocco

Postcard from Morocco by Dominick Argento was composed in 1971 and is one of my favorite 20th century chamber operas. When I first began my journey of studying new music and operas for Marble City Opera I came across this piece. I knew Argento's work as a composer, because I had sung his song cycle Six Elizabethan Songs on a recital in college.

As a concept for Marble City Opera, I thought it was perfect, because it takes place at a Train Station, so I put it on my to do list to produce at a Train Station. Whenever, I'm looking at potential operas to bring to Marble City Opera I always look at location, because instead of using sets we use venues to help tell our stories. Then when the timing was just right, I was able to add Postcard from Morocco to our season for 2018 at the Jackson Terminal!

It is based on A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. The setting is a train station in an exotic place, 1914 and is composed for seven voices and a mime. It is 100% an ensemble piece and all the characters meet one another for the first time at the train station. Each character is named after an object that they have with them or something that describes them specifically, and then sings an aria about the object they have with them and why they can't leave without it. The lady with the hand mirror, Lady with a hat box, the foreign woman, man with old luggage, man with coronet case, and shoe salesman. The only person at the train station with a real name is Mr. Owen! In the end, the passengers all leave except one, Mr. Owen, who acts out a story about sailing away on a boat.

It's a strange opera, but a very intriguing and beautiful one. I knew instantly the director for the job was James Marvel, and he did a stunning job telling the story and making sense of it for the audience, he was assisted by Marya Barry. Brandon Evans, a Marble City Opera favorite, sang the role of Mr. Owen and was outstanding vocally and dramatically in the role. The cast included Cat Richmond, Ryan Colbert, Jennifer Barsamian, Ryan Ford, Daniel Barry, Colin Levin, and Brandon Evans.

Read the Review by Arts Knoxville

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