Productions

Lyric Opera’s ‘The Juliet Letters’ delivers creative and emotional intimacies

Kansas City Star/Libby Hanssen
Photos by Cory Weaver

“The Juliet Letters,” the latest production in the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s inaugural Explorations Series, was a fascinating, creative presentation examining the emotional release inspired by anonymous confidentiality, in a sold-out performance at the Michael and Ginger Frost Production Arts Building.

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…with smart, compact staging from director Fenlon Lamb. It was a successful, intimate show, and the excellent musicians and crew delighted the audience in this noteworthy production. Read full article.

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‘Suor Angelica’ and ‘Gianni Schicchi’
Maria Kanyova Triumphs as Sister Angelica

Santa Barbara Independent/Charles Donelan

What a splendid night this was for Opera Santa Barbara. The double feature of Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi succeeded in conveying two crucial features of the operatic form—the lightheartedness of make-believe and the soul-searing intensity of a grand passion. As the poet James Merrill wrote of his first experience of a matinee performance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, “with pulsing wealth the house is filled,/ No one believing, everybody thrilled.” In this production, thanks to superb direction by Fenlon Lamb and excellent scenic, lighting, and hair and makeup design, the peculiar thrills of make-believe were out in full force. The ensemble rose to the challenge of this fast-paced farce by displaying a seemingly effortless but no doubt hard-earned cohesion throughout the work’s multiple shifts in mood. The search for Donati’s will was particularly entertaining, with every character but one engaged in turning the set upside down and inside out in an avaricious frenzy.

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Turn of the Screw @ UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance

Set Design-Zoë Still, Lighting Design-Nicole Jaja, Costume Design-Lindsay Davis, Wigs & Makeup-Max Archimedes

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Superb cast serves up a delightful “Don Pasquale” at Palm Beach Opera

South Florida Classical Review

Donizetti’s Don Pasquale is one of the most enchanting of Italian comic operas, combining an endless profusion of bel canto melodies with a witty libretto and even a touch of wisdom regarding the romantic fantasies of an aging bachelor. When staged and played with style and fine vocalism, this delightful confection can be an utter delight.

Palm Beach Opera’s production, which opened at the Kravis Center on Friday night, is that and more. From first curtain to last the pace never flagged in Lamb’s production, which was replete with nonstop high jinks.

Full Review

Carlo Lepore, Janai Brugger, Lucas Meachem
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Classical Source.com

Reviewed by David Rice

Palm Beach Opera’s production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale embraces an excellent quartet of principals and fine orchestral playing. An attractive and well-timed staging combine to demonstrate why it is one of the most delightful of comic operas.

Allen Moyer’s scenery and costumes were attractive, and Fenlon Lamb’s direction energetic.

Full review

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Review: Palm Beach Opera’s tuneful, funny ‘Pasquale’ delights

Palm Beach Daily News

This weekend, Palm Beach Opera is offering Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, arguably the pinnacle of the form, in a delightful staging at Kravis Center. It’s one of the company’s best efforts, a merry romp that no opera lover should miss.

Full Review Janai Brugger (Norina) and David Portillo (Ernesto)

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Die Zauberflöte at UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance

Set Design: Jeff Ridenour. Costume Design: Max Levitt and Lindsey Davis. Projection Design: Kris Kirkwood. Lighting Design: Jamie Leonard

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Dayton Opera, Philharmonic triumph with production of Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers

Oakwood Register/Burt Saidel

The richness of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance was on full display. It was the cast of brilliant singers, the chorus, and the dancers that became an integral part of the saga. The beautiful Dayton Ballet was perfect for its role as part of the drama, not as incidental ”opera ballet.” The enlightened stage direction of Fenlon Lamb, in her debut, created the totality.

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Music Fest hits a high note with opera

Mt. Desert Islander/Nan Lincoln

Fenlon Lamb’s direction was great fun throughout, studded with brilliant comic gems, such as the interlude where all the characters on stage were suddenly transformed into steeple clock automatons mechanically weaving around and bowing to one another as they sang.

Great performances, clever direction, a fine old story and a beautiful theater made for a wonderful night out at the opera Friday night with the Bar Harbor Music Festival’s production of “La Cenerentola.” Pictured, left to right, are Alexandra May, Alice-Anne Light, Keith Harris, Andy Papas, Laura Krumm and Zac Engle. PHOTO BY NAN LINCOLN

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“Little Women” is big on heart and talent

KCMetropolis.org/Don Dagenais

The UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance took full advantage of this opera in a charming and heartfelt presentation.
Fenlon Lamb staged the opera with sensitive intelligence, and Jeff Ridenour produced an interesting set design with partial movable walls made of timber along with a hint of overhead beams, reminiscent of a New England clapboard house.
With such a nicely rounded cast and outstanding production values, Little Women was a thoroughly enjoyable evening of opera and a welcome presentation of a modern classic. It is an operatic evening well spent

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Opera brings beauty, youthful energy to La Bohème

by Robert Croan
Palm Beach Daily News

A tingle of youthful energy pervaded Palm Beach Opera’s La Bohème, which opened Friday at the Kravis Center. An attractive unit set by Peter Dean Beck transformed easily from garret to café, to the gates of 19th-century Paris, while stage director Fenlon Lamb moved her characters around with naturalness and credibility. She was particularly adept at creating eye-catching snapshot tableaux – enhanced by Ron Vodicka’s excellent lighting.

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South Florida Classical Review

by Lawrence Budman

Palm Beach Opera opened its season Friday night with an opulent production of one of opera’s evergreens, Puccini’s La Bohème. Fenion Lamb, who directed a madcap Barber of Seville for Palm Beach Opera last season, brought spectacle without clutter to the Cafe Momus scene and staged the intimate moments sensitively, particularly elucidating how Musetta and Marcello’s playfulness could turn explosive. Lamb’s superb theatrical instincts shone in Mimi’s death scene on a darkened stage with a single spotlight on Alkema, holding the blackout until the final sad chords had sounded.

PBO’s ‘La Bohème,’ Cast 2: Subtle approach makes ‘Bohème’ memorable

by Rex Hearn
Palm Beach Arts Paper

Director Fenlon Lamb who last year directed an exceptionally good one-hour version of Ned Rorem’s Our Town for Palm Beach Opera’s Young Artists, chose to low-key the stage action and let the music do the talking. It was a beautiful ensemble performance, the likes of which the old New York City Opera was famous for under the late and revered team of Beverley Sills and Julius Rudel. The Italian conductor Daniele Callegari led the 70-piece orchestra in the pit with great sensitivity to Lamb’s conception of a subdued interpretation. Together, they gave this 1896 opera fresh legs, setting a very cultivated tone for other directors to follow.

Read full article

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Arizona Opera’s Rigoletto is grand and gripping

by Herbert Paine
BroadwayWorld.com

Arizona Opera’s production of Rigoletto, directed by Fenlon Lamb, is a noble and well-constructed effort in portraying the ironic misjudgments of its main characters…grand and gripping and entertaining and very much worth seeing.

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New Orleans and Mobile

British Opera/Jack Belsom

Mobile Opera, now in its 69th season, operates on a smaller scale but its Werther (October 26) showed a company employing taste and care. Fenlon Lamb directed a sympathetic production in attractive settings by Charles Houghton.

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Fall madly in love with Mobile Opera’s Werther

by Tamara Ikenberg
al.com

“Werther” is a moody masterpiece speckled with brilliant moments of comic relief…a passionate and stirring performance of the dark and dramatic love story. The whole production is simply beautiful and wonderfully done. Do not miss it! Give in to the mad passion and get swept away.

Dutchman flies again

by Peter Perret
CVNC.org

The lighting and the projections of Michael Baumgarten and Fenlon Lamb added much to the constantly changing moods. Working within a traditional set design (on loan from the Arizona Opera), with an actual mock-up of a sailing vessel crossing the stage, projections on the scrim in front and on the back cyclorama were an integral part of the staging. An unusual innovation during the overture was a retrospective insight into Senta’s obsession with the legend of the Flying Dutchman, done with projections and showing the child Senta already fascinated by the dark tragedy of the Hollander.

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Artsalamode.com

by Mark Pizzato

Ever been swept away by a romantic adventure movie with supernatural elements? Well, one of Wagner’s earliest operas, from 1843, shows the pre-feminist spirit of today’s Harlequin romance novel (or of the teen book and film series, Twilight) with ghosts on the high seas and a woman caught between two competing suitors through her father’s greed. But it focuses on character, not plot, and on music (or a “soundtrack”) that inspires sublime fantasies, with operatic voices longing for freedom, loyalty, and love. The Opera Carolina production provides excellent performances, intriguing visuals, and feminist ironies drawn out of the original’s sincere passions.

Director Fenlon Lamb, scene designer Peter Dean Beck, and lighting designer Michael Baumgarten stress such ironies with their startling set contexts and projections. During the overture, a huge picture (projected on the scrim) shifts within its frame, between waves, ship, and sky, while Senta is revealed behind that surface reaching out toward her fantasy portrait and various men onstage. When the ghost ship arrives alongside Daland’s, its tattered burlap sails and zombie-stiff sailors, like singing Greek columns (with voices almost lost under the orchestra), foreshadow the patriarchal sufferings in subsequent scenes of living groups of women and men.

Balancing operatic polish, romantic beauty, and feminist critique, this production of a famous Wagnerian work might also make us wonder whether our current gender, racial, nationalist, and consumer ideals could be a tricky deal with the devil, putting a further twist on the Germanic sublime.

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Nightingale Opera Theatre: Hansel and Gretel at the Barlow Center

ClevelandClassical.com
by Daniel Hathaway

Fenlon Lamb’s efficient staging…fresh and alluring from curtain to curtain.
The final scene was particularly affecting.

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Palm Beach Opera’s “Barber” makes for a fizzing and delightful night of Rossini
SouthFloridaClassicalReview.com

Palm Beach Opera’s production opened Friday night at the Kravis Center and hit all the right notes. Throughout the performance, the audience laughed uproariously at the cannily staged, nonstop comedy and cheered the cast at the final curtain.

Director Fenlon Lamb keeps a breathless pace without degenerating into clichéd sight gags. Strobe lights enhance the wonderful confusion of the Act I finale while the storm scene is staged as a Keystone Cops silent movie pantomime. Displaying theatrical ingenuity and artistic taste, Lamb’s staging captures the essence of bubbly opera buffa rather than exaggerated sitcom.

Read full review

Palm Beach Opera: Barber of Seville 2014-02-23

PB Opera’s Young Artists score brave triumph in abridged ‘Alcina’
Rex Hearn for Palm Beach Arts Paper

Palm Beach Opera’s Young Artists brought off another astonishing coup Friday with their performances in Handel’s 1735 opera, Alcina, aided and abetted by music director Timothy Cheung and stage director Fenlon Lamb. Eight white Doric pillars of varying heights were capped by gilded mythic beasts.The set looked elegant and royal with swaths of gold draperies on the back wall. Kudos to the designers who made less look like more.

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Splendid “Cendrillon” delights at UMKC
KCMetropolis.org

Let’s start with the visuals. The UMKC production was the most spectacular visual production this observer has seen in over 30 years of opera at White Recital Hall. The set, with an attractive proscenium and dominated by a large flower-tree, served for both interior and exterior scenes. The lighting projections on the tall walls were extremely effective, ranging from “Once upon a time” in the beginning to “and they lived happily ever after” at the end, interspersed with starry nights, a collection of clock faces, and an elaborate ballroom design, among other delights, highlighting various scenes throughout.

Fenlon Lamb’s stage direction was entirely suitable to the work. It was broadly comic in the scenes involving the stepsisters, the bored Prince Charming, and in the hilarious “Procession of Princesses” during the ball scene. Each was filled with clever asides at appropriate places. When the opera turned more romantic in the last two acts, the direction altered to suit the mood, particularly in the moving vignettes where Prince Charming and Cinderella seek each other in the night, prior to their happy reunion at the end.

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Cendrillon (Cinderella) Opera UMKC - Friday 15 Nov 2013 - shots from performance (full stage width to show scene changes). Photo, copyright Mike Strong - kcdance.com

Cendrillon (Cinderella) Opera UMKC – Friday 15 Nov 2013 – shots from performance (full stage width to show scene changes). Photo, copyright Mike Strong – kcdance.com

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Classic and Stylish
Concerto.net

With this new production of Lucia di Lammermoor, Arizona Opera gets off to a stylish start. Fenlon Lamb’s direction is classic and well in line with the libretto. If the company maintains such quality throughout the season, opera fans in Arizona should be ecstatic.

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Review: ‘Lucia’ star stuns Tucson audience
Arizona Daily Star

Lucia did not go mad suddenly; under director Fenlon Lamb, it was a gradual progression that started when we were first introduced to Lucia in the garden as she saw the ghost of a woman who had been killed by her jealous lover and left to rot in a well. Bringing the ghost — wearing a stained dress and looking gray as death — to life added layers of terror to the opera, and went a long way to convince you Lucia was slowly going mad. The ghost reappears several times, seen only by Lucia. And when Lucia finally did go mad, she looked a lot like that ghost.

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A marriage made in heaven

Mount Desert Islander/Nan Lincolm

A highlight of the summer season for music lovers on Mount Desert Island is the annual Bar Harbor Festival opera, held at the Criterion Theater. This year in keeping with the alternating program of comedy and tragedy the opera was Le nozze di Figaro. It was such a relief to have Fenlon Lamb back as director of this opera. She somehow manages on what must be pocket change to give the illusion that we are watching a fully realized production. While the opera at three hours was longer than most of these Bar Harbor Festival productions, Ms. Lamb kept it so active and interesting the time flew by and the audience showed its appreciation with a well-deserved standing ovation.

Photo credit: @ Julius Ahn

Photo credit: @ Julius Ahn

‘La Traviata’ dazzles ‘rock’ crowd
Toledo Blade

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At student night on Wednesday the reception by a large, very young crowd in the Valentine Theatre was rock-star enthusiastic. Violetta’s extended death scene was graceful and believable. Alfredo was ardent, impulsive and sensitive. The chorus was an essential and energizing element. The very moving second act…the high point of the evening. Director Fenlon Lamb’s staging made the most of all the talent against a simplified yet evocative set.

Click HERE to read the full review.

Madama Butterfly Hits High Note
Bar Harbor Times

For two-and-a-half wonderful hours this year’s Bar Harbor Opera Theater production kept the audience thrilled, enrapt and finally heartbroken as the tragedy played out amid familiar and favorite arias and duets.

[In] the opera’s most heart-rending and poignant moment [Un bel di vedremo]…we could almost see the wisp of smoke rising from the funnels of the ship as it entered Nagasaki Harbor, hear the cannon blast announcing its arrival, and see his small figure start the ascent to the hilltop house they once shared and where Butterfly waits patiently and confidently for him to reach her door and start up their life together again.

Fenlon Lamb, who directed, also deserved a standing ovation for putting this whole thing together in about a week, with just enough costuming and set to make it all feel like the real deal.

In love with the Opera: “Elixir of Love” gets huge laughs
The Ellsworth American

Anyone who was home last Thursday night doing their laundry, watching “America’s Got Talent” on TV; reading the latest Vanity Fair, or even those who decided to go sing karaoke at their local bar, missed out on where the fun stuff was really happening that night. In fact, anyone who was not at the Criterion Theatre that evening attending the Bar Harbor Music Festival’s production of the opera “Elixir of Love” missed the boat (the love boat actually) altogether.

Oh my, this lighthearted, rollicking little opera, which followed last year’s intense and passionate “Carmen,” was just the thing to brighten yet another rainy night on MDI. In fact is was so fun, funny and beautifully acted and sung, I do believe it parted the clouds for a while—at least it wasn’t raining when we all left the theater with silly grins on our faces—or maybe we just didn’t notice.

First of all, major kudos to Fenlon Lamb who directed this delightful show. Not only did she gather together a terrific little cast—drawing them, literally, from coast to coast–she did not give them a second’s worth of down time while they were on stage—engaging them every moment with some bit of stage business, even when they weren’t singing. In fact some of the most hilarious moments were done in pantomime.

Angela Gilbert, who astonished audiences two years ago with her moving and thrillingly sung performance as the dying courtesan in “La Traviata,” demonstrated that she has some pretty well developed comic chops here as the fickle and flirty Adina—alternately luring and pushing away the men who swarm to her like hummingbirds to honeysuckle.

Ross Hauck as one of those helpless and hopelessly in love suitors, Nemorino, was totally adorable in his nerdy outfit, complete with taped glasses, too short pants and clunky shoes. In another life this curly haired, blue-eyed young man might have been swooning lasses singing Irish ballads and such. But his fine, pitch-perfect and lively lyric tenor is excellently suited for this sort of light opera fare and his spine-tingling rendition of the aria “Una Fortiva Lagrima” showed he could very well take on some weightier roles. As the dweeby Nemorino, though, he never broke character and was always making some foolish mistake or misstep — stepping through chair backs, knocking himself over with a beach umbrella and such—that got him in further trouble with his beloved Adina, but just made those of us in the audience with a shred of maternal instinct love him all the more.

As the bombastic, self-important military man Belcore, Ryan Taylor was also perfect, swaggering about the stage in his camouflage fatigues, rolling his “rrrrrrs” pretentiously in his rich and rumbling baritone, to great comic effect as he woos the unimpressed Adina.

And then there’s the wonderful Jason Hardy, who played the charlatan Dulcamara who comes to town selling his various elixirs and manages to convince the nincompoop Nemorino that a bottle of burgundy is actually a love potion. A bass voice normally gives its character a certain, well, profundity, and gravitas. But Hardy used his terrific instrument to sound unctuous and wheedling — just the opposite from what one might expect. To accomplish this he used his sinuous body language and suggestive facial expressions, often turning to the audience with a sly grin or wink to let us in on the “clever” scam he was pulling off.

Amy Mahoney, in a small singing role as Adina’s friend, Gianetta, was spot on and looked fetching in her 50’s-style peddle-pushers.

One character who never got to sing or open his mouth at all was Michael Mahoney who took on several roles and was simply hilarious in all of them — especially the disgruntled waiter and the assistant to Dulcamara — playing them with Buster Keaton-like panache. David Schildkret also ably filled a character role as a tight-lipped, straight-backed military man.

This little performance company, which once had heroines expiring on plastic lawn chairs, has come a long way in terms of production, too. Here they managed to do wonders with a few wooden chairs, some colored lanterns, a teacart and a beach umbrella to make the set festive and fun and believable as an Italian courtyard in the 1950’s. The period costuming was also terrific.