Strong Feelings about Love/Hate
by Christie Connolley
Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle is not without some serious opinions about a new chamber opera Love/Hate, commissioned by the ODC Theatre in cooperation with the San Francisco Opera Center. Let’s start with the title of his review, shall we? ‘Love/Hate’ review: Rhapsody in blah. Here is the Operagasm Review Rundown!
Musical Schizophrenia: “He alternates bursts of tango, blues and soft-shoe with longer stretches of lyrical rhapsodizing or swift, functional recitative. He writes a witty instrumental fantasia on telephone ring tones and a deft Sondheimesque opening ensemble. He quotes, in passing, from songs by the Doors and the Fifth Dimension, then weaves a beautiful four-voice coda to close the piece. It’s an impressive display of stylistic versatility, but the reason behind this breathless quick-change act is only too apparent: Perla is working overtime to keep afloat a work that is about nothing at all.”
Doing the most with what you got: “Director M. Graham Smith works hard to give each of these scenes a bit of theatrical flair, but he can’t do much to breathe life into the piece’s stick figures, or to draw helpful connections among the disjointed scenes. It’s telling that explanatory supertitles are needed to identify the premise of each flashback.”
At least the singing was on point: “As the two lovers, baritone Ao Li and mezzo-soprano Laura Krumm moved deftly from crisp, jazzy patter to long-breathed lyricism and back again. Tenor Thomas Glenn was a dashing, insinuating Death and a poignant figure as George’s wounded former boyfriend. But the evening’s high point came in soprano Marina Boudart Harris’ arching, emotionally urgent solo as Laura’s former lover, Samantha. It’s a wonderful evocation of true love, with all its exhilaration and heartache, and Boudart Harris sang it radiantly.”