2.03.2010

The Star / Austin Lyric Opera : 4 of 5

Although I love seeing the usual opera hits over and over, it can definitely be a a fun experience to enjoy something completely new. Austin Lyric Opera hasn't been afraid to "take chances" with some relatively obscure productions in recent years, so I had no idea what to expect with their current opera, The Star, a somewhat modern French comedy opera. Opening night fell on my birthday, and I'm glad to say that The Star was a hilarious way to celebrate the occasion! While the music was certainly wonderful with accessible melodies and light songs that reminded me of The Magic Flute (especially the kissing song), this production is truly visual. The costumes are full of outlandish colors, combined with props like umbrellas, bowler hats, and even scooters, and the set is an unbelievable mix of mirrors, sloped floor, garish backdrops filled with eyes, and even six remote-controlled spotlights in the ceiling that can project shapes and move them all over the stage. There's even a huge inflatable throne! When I saw the combination of these elements it seemed like Magritte meets Laugh-In, but somehow it works! The plot is really clever and funny, and although it seems impossible to follow when reading a written synopsis, it actually flows easily. The lead male role is played by a woman, who did a fantastic job with broad comedic overacting, but I thought the king was the best role of of the show, especially during one hilarious song where he gets drunk with the count astrologer. This production of the The Star requires an open mind and definitely challenges various pre-conceived notions about opera, but there's no denying that every minute was sheer entertainment and fun!

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