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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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    Opera Review: Greek

    When was the last time you’ve been to the opera? For those of you that have a baffled look on your face, that can either mean one of two things: you have never been to one, or it has been so long that your brain is frying just trying to remember it. Either way, I think it’s about time for you to go out and see ‘Greek.’

    On Feb. 9 at 8:00 PM in the Tabler Center for the Performing Arts, Stony Brook Opera presented Mark-Anthony Turnage’s ‘Greek,’ which is based on Steven Berkoff’s adaptation of ‘Oedipus the King’ to a modern setting of the Thatcherite East End of London.

    Oedipus, who was the mythical king of Thebes and son of Laius and Jocasta, unknowingly killed his father and married his mother. Prejudice, hostility and mass unemployment appear as metaphors for the plague that consequentially afflicts London, and forms the background of the story of the main character in the opera, Eddy.

    The opera opens on a desolate stage with Eddy, played by Carlos Conde, who is contemplating the boozy grass nightlife of the East End. Eddy is bored and wants more from life. We then meet his family, which is stuck in a common rut of toasty breakfasts and nagging. His dad, played by Evan Rainey Bennett, informs him that a fortune-teller once told him that Eddy would murder his father and marry his mother. Eddy decides that he is fed up with all this nonsense and decides to leave home. Once he leaves, the Oedipus myth unfolds. Eddy goes through many trials and tribulations before finding out that the fortune-teller was right.

    One of the highlights for me was the duet of the Sphinxes, played by Christine Free and Risa Renae Harman. They were wild, sexy and, most importantly, evil! There were other great performances from the assembled cast. Each actor portrayed his or her characters flawlessly. According to director Andrew Frank, the cast was chosen for ‘vocal range and voice quality.’

    Overall, this adaptation was an excellent production of an exhilarating and dramatic work. As for the outcome of the show, Frank said that he was ‘very happy, although [he] wish [the cast] had had more time to rehearse.’

    Frank, who has directed over 100 plays, musicals and operas, said he chose ‘Greek’ because ‘it was the most challenging piece [Stony Brook Opera] could get our hands on.’

    For those who are still unconvinced by the idea of seeing an opera, Frank said, ‘They should laugh their way over to the theater and see the show.’ There were a few funny moments. Some scary ones, sexy ones, and dramatic ones as well.’

    Whether you thoroughly enjoyed this production or missed it, you can look forward to several more. According to Frank, ‘up next is ‘Orfeo’ by Montiverdi – It will be on the main stage at Staller and should be fantastic!’

    ‘Greek’ combines jazz and classical traditions. The opera contains both sung and spoken dialogue, and is far-off detached from any form of naturalism. The stylized spoken dialogue, with its exaggerated tone of ‘boldness,’ becomes another aspect of the music. It moves from the rhythmic disharmony of the football chant through snatches of jazz and rock to passages of real lyricism. ‘Greek’ is a success. It certainly gets my recommendation!

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