Review Roundup: New York City Opera's ANGELS IN AMERICA
New York City Opera concludes the season with the eagerly anticipated New York premiere of Péter Eötvös's Angels in America, based on the play by Tony Kushner.
Sam Helfrich directs the new production featuring an exciting ensemble cast that includes Andrew Garland, Wayne Tigges, Sarah Beckham-Turner, AaRon Blake, Sarah Castle, Kirsten Chambers, Matthew Reese, and Michael Weyandt. City Opera's principal conductor Pacien Mazzagatti leads the New York City Opera Orchestra.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Richard Sasanow, BroadwayWorld: I knew that Eotvos's work, which had its local premiere at New York City Opera last weekend, directed by Sam Helfrich, clocked in at around 2 ½ hours, compared to the seven hours of Tony Kushner's two-part epic. How would it compress all those verbal parries, the humor, the politics, the theatricality, and still be ANGELS? The answer was that this ANGELS seemed neither better than the original nor different enough, despite a challenging, rangy score by Eotvos, performed by Principal Conductor Pacien Mazzagatti and his City Opera orchestra, that could soar but more often talked.
Zachary Wolfe, New York Times: "More life" is the aspiration of Tony Kushner's "Angels in America," the blessing its characters fervently hope to gain. But while Mr. Kushner's play, sprawling over two parts and seven hours, wants more, more, more, its operatic adaptation, composed in 2004 by the Hungarian modernist Peter Eotvos, settles for less. With the fat of the original script carved away, then much of the meat, you're left with a two-hour opera that's like a skeleton: elegant, chilly, a bit otherworldly, ultimately unnourishing.
James Jorden, Observer: The piece itself-the 2004 operatic précis by Péter Eötvös that is not the original Tony Kushner play-is perhaps most striking as an example of how difficult it is for European artists to grok American source material. The libretto by Mari Mezei seems drawn magnetically to the most obvious and melodramatic plot elements (and there certainly are moments in the play that border on soap opera) while sidestepping Kushner's fascinating stylistic decision to make talking-nonstop, motormouthed, yammering, hyperbolic talking-the central action of his play.
Eric C. Simpson, New York Classical Review: It's always difficult to present a dramatic piece that's tied to an issue of its time and the surrounding sentiments. Indeed, the opera's closing testimony, that the world spins only, inexorably forward, will likely ring hollow to many New York audience members in this political moment. Yet on the whole, Angels ages remarkably well-more than a message play about a specific event, it feels like a work that uses its contemporary concerns to reach at universal truths about love, grief, and resilience.
Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz