Friday night we went to the Mission Theater to see Opera Theater Oregon's production of Gian Carlo Minotti's The Old Maid and the Thief. I hadn't known this opera before. It was one of the first operas created for radio, and OTO performed it on stage as a radio show, complete with a short film about the radio actors involved in the production.
The show was kooky and delightful and good opera besides. There are some lovely duets in the score along with all the great comedy. OTO artistic director Erica Melton deftly conducted the orchestra consisting of, as stated in the program, "snazzy fiddle," "lefty cello," "licorice stick" [clarinet], "ma and pa gobble-pipe" [saxophone] and piano for, of course, "tickling the ivories."
I thought all the performers were really great - beautiful singing and very funny characterization from Audrey Sackett, Erik Hundtoft, Ian Timmons, Christine Meadows and Lisa Mooyman.
Lisa Mooyman is a fabulous coloratura soprano who we last saw deliver the funniest opera moment I have ever seen, singing Queen of the Night while pulling another singer's hair during a soprano cat fight in OTO's Sordid Lives. She was both beautiful and hysterical Friday night as The Old Maid and the Thief's nosy neighbor Miss Pinkerton, singing a whirling swarm of notes and hitting the mark every time. That part had to be really hard to sing - not to mention being funny in the process.
Mezzo-soprano Christine Meadows was spot on as Miss Todd, the opera's "old maid." Her singing was beautiful and substantial and exact, and her acting, in the role that carried the production, had the same authority her voice did. As kooky as her role was, Meadows played it naturally, giving Miss Todd both humor and poignancy.
Adapting the script for this production was writer Robert Hill, best known for his novel When All is Said and Done. Robert's droll wit and his mastery of making music with words lent itself sweetly to the old time radio show style. He was not planning on also performing in the show but was talked into it by artistic director Erica Melton. He was excellent as the narrator of the radio production, reading with musical cadence and whimsy.
The Old Maid and the Thief plays today (Sunday) at 2 o'clock and then again this coming week, with 7:30 performances on October 11th (Thursday) and 12th (Friday). You can check out the info on OTO's website here. Facebook event page is here.