Opera Virgin Reviews: Hagoromo
Opera Virgin here with a review of my first live opera experience.
Hagoromo ran November 3-8 at BAM, starring Wendy Whelan with Katalin Károlyi and Jock Soto with Peter Tantsits.
The music starts with the Angel dancing with the Hagoromo, a beautiful scarf. In the middle of the night, a puppet tiger and puppet puppy knock the Hagoromo off its pedestal and it falls to Earth, where it’s found by a Fisherman. The Fisherman is delighted, thinking this find will provide for him and his family, but the Angel is despondent. She comes to Earth to recover the cloak and begs the Fisherman to return it. They negotiate and he agrees, if only he can see her dance.
That might seem like a simple story, but there’s a lot going on there. Is art more important than making ends meet? How much is a moment of beauty worth?
And there was definitely a lot happening on stage too. When thinking about how to write this review, I felt a little like Stefon introducing New York’s hottest nightclub:
This opera has everything. Dancing puppets. A children’s choir. A flute that could double as a battering ram. Did I mention the puppets?! The puppeteers were almost indistinguishable from the dancers!
But even with everything going on, the performance was oddly muted. The set was sparse, the costumes quiet, and the music was punctuated by moments of silence.
Those of you who read my last (and first) review, know that I’m only just dipping my toe into the wide world of opera this year, and I’m not about to start guessing as to the intentions of the creative team and the influences of Noh and European opera.
I will just say this. Hagoromo gave me a lot to think about, and it was stunning to see it come together. And also, if you’re thinking of who to nominate for Operagasm’s Annual Awards — I think the puppet dog who knocks the scarf to Earth is a prime contender.