Brave New Opera

The Woman in the Wall shows that Opera can be Refreshing & New

The Woman in the Wall, produced by Overtone Industries, made its début last weekend at the Masonic Lodge in Culver City. I found this performance to be a lovely hypnotic odyssey set to medieval music. This opera presents the noble struggle of protagonist Marianna (played by Gretchen Johnson) as she confronts doubt while some peasants, a soldier and a king treat her as though she were an oracle. It features lovely operatic and choral voices and covers powerful themes such as destiny, choice and virtue.

According to the Overtone web site:  The subject of the production is inspired by the 14th Century tradition of The Anchoress – a woman who volunteers to be enclosed for the rest of her life in a church cell – with one window open to the sacred world and the other open to the ordinary world. …Ultimately, the work is a “mystery play” in the ancient tradition; it explores the openings and paths inside that are revealed when all doors are locked shut

Experiencing such an event in the Culver City Masonic Lodge added to the mystery as entering the setting brought to mind images of some of the stranger scenes from the film Eyes Wide Shut.  But once the music began and the chorus voices filled the room I felt fortunate to find myself in such an intimate setting.   I liked the production as much for its ambition as I did for its musicality.  The opera features a 30-member chorus from the Angel City Chorale, led by Sue Fink and a 10 piece orchestra led by Musical director David O.

Bravo to composer and director O-Lan Jones, librettist Kathleen Cramer and all of the musicians and players.  This was obviously a labor of love and I was happy to have seen it during its brief run. Only two performances remain — March 30 & 31.