*Rev 23,* 1/18/20
I saw *Rev 23* at the Prototype Festival on 1/18/20. It’s a new opera with music by Juilan Wachner and a libretto by Cerise Lim Jacbs. It was about Lucifer, Hades, Persephone, the Furies, etc longing to go up to the surface of the earth and wreak some havoc. This was the only opera of the four Prototype operas that had a full chamber orchestra, Novus NY, conducted by Daniela Candillari. BTW it’s notable that three of the four Prototype operas were conducted by women.
The first act was amazing, so full of energy and fun. The music was exciting and inventive, a real “look what I can do” kind of score. Alexander Birch Elliott was the stand-out in the cast, the baritone who played Lucifer. Wow, what a voice - - I’d describe it as “virile.” He’s also easy on the eyes, and had his shirt off in the last scene, displacing a stunning torso. This guy is going places, he knocked me out. But mostly for his singing, really! Here he is singing Figaro's famous entrance aria from Rossini's *The Barber of Seville.* The high Gs are marvelous, of course, but I love that he throws in a few As as well.
Colleen Daly was Persphone, another stand-out. At first I thought she was a mezzo with a good high voice, her middle voice was very rich. But then I read in her bio that she recently covered the role of Cunegonde in *Candide,* so she’s a straight up soprano, for sure. She had a long aria in the second act, that was a highlight. She’s got a gorgeous voice.
As I said, the first act was amazing, but the second act was a let-down. Lucifer, Persephone, and their posse have arrived up on earth and have decided the best way to mix things up is to return literature, music, and porn to the people (they’ve gotten very virtuous and square). This return to pop culture was illustrated by snippets of recorded music: the Beatles, Shirley Bassey, *The Nutcracker,* etc, and did I hear Janet Baker singing Gluck? A little of that goes a long way, and we got rather more of it than I would have wished. The rest of the act was all new music, and it didn’t have the drive and tightness of the first act. But I would love to hear Wachner’s next opera, he definitely showed a lot of promise.