BWW Reviews: Skylight Revolutionizes Beethoven's 'Fidelio'
Skylight Music Theatre, Viswa Subbaraman, Ludwig van Beethoven, Fidelio, Opera, Raghave KK, Karin Brown-Larrimore, Deep Devasena, Bollywood,
A magnificent revolution arrived when the curtain opened at the Skylight Music Theatre on Friday night. The first night Artistic Director Viswa Subbaraman christened his magical season as the Stage and Music Director for his premiere production in Ludwig van Beethoven's Fidelio.
Subbaraman also invited the international Indian artist Raghava KK to inspire the impressive scenic design for the opera. Opulent, larger than life sets recalled Disney's award winning Fantasia influenced by painter Henri Rousseau's exotic, surreal worlds. Which then set a backdrop for Karin Brown-Larimore's traditional Indian inspired costumes fashioned in hues taken from tropical birds of paradise: gilt trimmed, sparkling, swirling skirts and veils for the women, majestic uniforms and turbans for the men.
Milwaukee's own chorographer Deepa Devasena introduced the Bollywood element to Subbaraman's interpretation of Fidelio when her unique choreography mixed ethnic dance that flirted with contemporary flair to the original early 19th century opera. All these gifted technical professionals, together with a production and theater staff Subbaraman brought on stage for the evening's standing ovation, created an amazing spectacle of performance art. Enhanced throughout the production when modern technology linked video screens on stage to interactive headphones worn by Subbaraman when he was conducting, which would electronically change the colors and images the audience visibly sees on the stage.
The abundant innovation to Beethoven's only opera kept Skylight's audience completely entranced. As the performance unfolded this feast for the eyes and ears, Fidelio's tale of courage, freedom and love pierced the emotional heart In Beethoven's opera, the heroine Leonare (Caasandra Black) bravely rescues her husband Florestan (Chase Taylor) condemned to death for exposing political crimes. She then dresses as a man to earn the trust of the prison warden, Rocco (Chris Besch) that offers her a chance to free her starved, tortured husband. In the process, the warden's daughter Marzeline (Erica Schuller) falls in love with the loyal Fidelio, actually the disguised Leonare, so the opera crescendos to a finale where liberty and love eventually triumph.