BWW Reviews: HGO's NEW ARRIVALS - A Touching and Inspiring Opera
Mihoko Kinoshita, making her HGO debut, adroitly captured the raw emotions in the character of Yani Rose Keo. Mihoko Kinoshita’s stunning soprano voice was consummately expressive and touching, providing the audience with a tangible, relatable, and sincerely inspiring portrayal of Yani Rose Keo.
The other members of the cast were exceptional as well. Carlton Ford’s rich baritone added great sonic depth to the music, and was wonderfully used to bring the character of John to life. Katherine Jolly, also making her HGO debut, employed tender and expressive soprano vocals to make her portrayal of Iris poignant and unforgettable. Peter Tran expertly conveyed the angst and anger of being a refugee, dynamically completing the portrait painted by John Glover and Catherine Filloux.
The scenic design and direction choices were also brilliant and inspired. The mix of freestanding chairs arranged to resemble the interior of an airplane and two wings with turbine engines that spun were fantastic suggestions to the audience’s imagination, allowing them to visualize the literal journey taken by the refugees. The use of numbered tags pasted on the walls and scattered around the floor served as visual and ever-present reminders of the sheer multitudes of the lives lost during the reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia; however, when the cast used green incarnations of these tags to simulate the act of planting and growing food the cast of refugees reclaimed the atrocity to benefit a new life, which was a sincerely affecting choice.
As a whole, New Arrivals is a sensational new opera that will hopefully be performed many more times around the world, presenting a story that deserves to be told, received, and appreciated. Lastly, a highlight of the performance I attended was when the audience applauded a gracious Yani Rose Keo, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy the performance as much, if not more, than all in attendance.
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