GOLDEN AGE Reviews

LimelightMike
Broadway Legend
joined:6/21/06
GOLDEN AGE Reviews
Posted: 12/4/12 at 12:40am
Today is Tuesday, December 4, marking the official opening night performance of Manhattan Theatre Club's New York City premiere of Golden Age, Terrence McNally's play about the world of composer Vincenzo Bellini, following previews from November 15, with Lee Pace ("Pushing Daisies") as the nervous 19th-century Sicilian composer whose opera I Puritani is receiving its Paris world premiere in 1835.

According to MTC, "Its opening night of Vincenzo Bellini's new opera I Puritani in Paris, and the Italian composer is determined to win the adulation of not only his audience, but his colleagues and rivals as well. When the curtain falls, will a thunderous ovation cement his prominence? Or has Bellini unwittingly composed his own swan song? Blending 21st-century language with the timeless beauty of 19th-century bel canto opera, Terrence McNally's new play portrays the final act of an artist whose desire for greatness has eclipsed all else."
LimelightMike's 2010-2011 Theatergoing Schedule: THE PITMEN PAINTERS (10.03.10) A LIFE IN THE THEATRE (10.10.10) BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON (10.16.10) THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS (11.06.10) WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN (11.13.10) BRIEF ENCOUNTER (11.22.10) THE PEE-WEE HERMAN SHOW (11.28.10) LA BETE (12.23.10) A SMALL FIRE (01.13.11) THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON (03.09.11) ARCADIA (03.16.11) BLACK TIE (03.19.11) PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT (03.21.11) THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (03.26.11) BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO (03.30.11) GHETTO KLOWN (03.31.11) HOW TO SUCCEED... (04.07.11) ANYTHING GOES (04.12.11) JERUSALEM (04.20.11) SISTER ACT (04.29.11) iHO: (05.22.11)
Tom-497
Stand-by
joined:12/18/05
GOLDEN AGE Reviews
Posted: 12/4/12 at 08:20pm
Bloomberg says ***, which is "Good."

Nevertheless, an entire act is "filled with awkwardly posing singers dropping biographical information and engaging in stupid banter" until Neuwirth appears to improve things. Pace is also "most affecting," especially in his later scenes.
Bloomberg
Tom-497
Stand-by
joined:12/18/05
GOLDEN AGE Reviews
Posted: 12/4/12 at 08:30pm
Backstage is an A-, with praise for the play itself and also for the entire cast.

Lee Pace is an ideal Bellini, charismatic even in self-absorption and gifted with the requisite Byronic handsomeness. Pace excels at communicating Bellini’s often internal emotions and uses an effortless period physicality to good effect. Bebe Neuwirth’s Maria is full of grace, fire, and star quality....
Backstage
Tom-497
Stand-by
joined:12/18/05
GOLDEN AGE Reviews
Posted: 12/4/12 at 08:35pm
Entertainment Weekly is a C.

Even in Bellini's poutiest, most self-absorbed moments, Pace is never less than charming. He's the quintessential tortured artist — unabashedly romantic, hair askew, throwing himself about the stage with abandon, and voraciously devouring Sicilian blood oranges (Bellini's preferred snack). When he gets ahold of McNally's monologues, Pace can elevate them into arias....

Less effective are the numerous interior monologues written for Bellini's companion/sometime lover Florimo (Will Rogers). Their relationship, though fascinating, gets lost amid the backstage hustle and bustle. So does the object of Bellini's unrequited affection, Neuwirth's Maria Malibran, a Callas-like star who's even called 'my divine one.' Even two-time Tony winner Neuwirth, who can land a laugh with a sharpshooter's precision, ends up looking adrift.

Entertainment Weekly
Tom-497
Stand-by
joined:12/18/05
GOLDEN AGE Reviews
Posted: 12/4/12 at 10:02pm
Newsday is mixed.

... an ambitiously produced but ultimately toothless diversion set backstage at the 1835 premiere of Vincenzo Bellini's last opera, "I Puritani."

Taken at surface value, this is a lark, a playful if overextended imagining of rivalries and obsessions at a time when opera composers were like rock stars in capes, and new operas were events. But McNally uses just enough historical veracity to make the inaccuracies glaring. He leans on stock opera jokes -- you know, the baritone pads his crotch with fruit, the tenor is only concerned about his high F -- while straining for serious poignancy about immortality and art.

Newsday
Tom-497
Stand-by
joined:12/18/05
GOLDEN AGE Reviews
Posted: 12/4/12 at 10:09pm
AP is very positive.

In "Golden Age," McNally provides a fascinating, authentic-sounding glimpse of the passions and piques of top-notch performers as they struggle to get themselves — and one another — through the pressure-cooker nerves of a major opening-night performance.
AP
Tom-497
Stand-by
joined:12/18/05
GOLDEN AGE Reviews
Posted: 12/4/12 at 10:14pm
NY Times (Isherwood) is mostly negative.

Although Mr. McNally’s ardent affection for, and wide knowledge of, opera is unexceptionable, he has not succeeded in breathing life into the famous figures he is dealing with here. They mostly come across as singing stereotypes engaging in trite romantic dalliances and professional rivalries.
NY Times
Tom-497
Stand-by
joined:12/18/05
GOLDEN AGE Reviews
Posted: 12/4/12 at 10:21pm
Hollywood Reporter is fairly negative.

Unfortunately, McNally has not infused the proceedings with either the sparkling wit or emotional resonance necessary to sustain the play’s two-and-a-half hour running time. There is the occasional striking moment, such as when Malibran dramatically recites the text of one of the opera’s arias (echoing a similar scene in Master Class). But for the most part the tepid action will best be appreciated by opera-loving audience members intimately familiar with the historical milieu and the real-life figures being depicted.
Hollywood Reporter
Tom-497
Stand-by
joined:12/18/05
GOLDEN AGE Reviews
Posted: 12/4/12 at 10:25pm
NJ Newsroom is negative.

It is disappointing to report that little actually happens upon the backstage setting handsomely designed by Santo Loquasto. The playwright assembles some potentially interesting historical characters within a stressful situation and after a ton of exposition all ever we get is some 1830s opera gossip, a few minor hissy-fits and the occasional remark about how life is short and art outlasts everything.
NJ Newsroom
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
GOLDEN AGE Reviews
Posted: 12/4/12 at 10:33pm
Adam Feldman at Time Out gave it 2/5.

"Directed stiffly by Walter Bobbie, Golden Age winds up replicating the very sins—hackery, vulgarity, dull exposition—that its version of Bellini decries onstage. The objects of McNally’s obsession deserve better than maudlin fan fiction."


Link
Tom-497
Stand-by
joined:12/18/05
GOLDEN AGE Reviews
Posted: 12/4/12 at 10:52pm
Matthew Murray at Talkin Broadway is mixed.

McNally finds his surest expression when he's addressing Bellini's problems most directly, usually by way of his tempestuous muse Maria Malibran (Bebe Neuwirth).... Later still, Gioacchino Rossini (F. Murray Abraham), who's afraid he's drained himself of every worthwhile idea, also calls to give Bellini a glimpse into a different kind of future.

These characters show what McNally was truly attempting here, and how he's come so close to succeeding....

Unfortunately, this assurance has not extended to the other figures in this saga. Far less moving, and noticeably more annoying, are the vocalists McNally has constructed to represent the opening night cast....

Talkin Broadway
Tom-497
Stand-by
joined:12/18/05
GOLDEN AGE Reviews
Posted: 12/4/12 at 10:59pm
NY Post is 3 out of 4.

... the playwright’s liveliest effort in years....

Director Walter Bobbie brings the same comic flair he did in “The School for Lies,” setting a brisk but unhurried tempo that’s perfect for the farcical goings-on....

Pace (“The Normal Heart,” TV’s “Pushing Daisies”) has the debonair good looks of a golden-age Hollywood heartthrob. He elegantly underplays Bellini’s exhilarated highs and his depressed lows, and his rapport with Neuwirth is tainted with lovely wistfulness.
NY Post
Tom-497
Stand-by
joined:12/18/05
GOLDEN AGE Reviews
Posted: 12/4/12 at 11:06pm
Daily News is 2 out of 5.

McNally is onto something by contrasting Bellini’s bruising creative tunnel vision with his delicate ego and health. But as it unfolds at the Theatre-Italien in Paris, the story never gets traction or sets off bright sparks. There are just some fake lightning flashes as Bellini rides out his musical baby’s birth and juggles needy people in his orbit.
NY Daily News